Hochtief, Beluga build offshore jack-up vessel
A joint venture between Hochtief Construction and the project and heavy-lift carrier Beluga Shipping will start construction of a special jack-up vessel for the more rapid assembly of offshore wind turbines.
The vessel should go into service in 2012, which the companies say is in time to meet the pressing demand for special equipment in the offshore wind farm market. Details of the contract value were not disclosed.
Beluga Hochtief Offshore will operate and charter the vessel once it is constructed by the Polish shipyard Crist. The jack-up vessel would also be used by Hochtief for offshore construction work.
'With this special, state-of-the-art jack-up vessel, we will be able to significantly reduce the assembly and servicing times required for latest-generation offshore wind turbines, thus hugely increasing productivity,' said Niels Stolberg, president and chief executive officer of Beluga Shipping, in a statement.
Each year, the jack-up vessel will be able to install more than 80 wind turbines, each more than 120 meters tall, in water depths of up to 50 meters. The vessel's most distinctive features are its high load capacity of 8,000 tons, its 1,500-ton crane and its powerful drive.
The European Commission estimates that investments in offshore wind farms will top 200 billion euros ($277 billion) by 2030. The British government alone has awarded contracts worth 110 billion euros ($152 billion) for related projects. According to the European Wind Energy Association, in the next six years installed offshore output should increase 10-fold, reaching up to 15 gigawatts.
Hochtief and Beluga are considering building a second jack-up vessel, said Henner Mahlstedt, chairman of Hochtief Construction. Hochtief expects annual sales of nearly 500 million euros ($692 million) from the group's entire offshore business.