Chinese yard CIMC Raffles has cut first steel for what it claims will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm installation vessel.

The 176-by-63-metre jack-up vessel, designed by Knud E Hansen and ordered by Dutch offshore wind specialist Van Oord late last year, will be built for transporting and installing foundations and turbines.

The construction start-up this week keeps the vessel, named Boreas, on track for delivery in 2024.

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With about 3000 cubic metres of tank storage for methanol and five dual-fuel engines, the vessel can be powered by methanol and install wind turbines of up to 20 megawatts at sea with a very low carbon dioxide footprint, the contractor claims.

The vessel’s leg encircling crane (LEC) will have lifting capacity of 3000 tonnes and will be supplied by Dutch company Huisman.

The jack-up has four 127.4-metre legs and can work in waters up to 80 metres deep.

The DNV-classed vessel can accommodate 135 people and has a deck area of over 7000 square metres.

Boreas is part of Van Oord’s €1 billion ($1.16 billion) fleet investment programme over the next five years and follows a December 2020 order that the company placed with Norway’s Vard for a new cable-laying vessel.

Big picture: an illustration of offshore wind farm installation vessel Boreas Photo: CIMC RAFFLES

Van Oord has been involved in the development and construction of several wind energy projects including the Princess Amalia, Eneco Luchterduinen, Gemini, and Borssele III and IV in the North Sea and is also involved in building the Hollandse Kust (North) facility in the Netherlands.

In addition, it is carrying out the engineering, procurement, construction and installation work for the Sofia wind farm being built on the Dogger Bank in the middle of the North Sea.

Van Oord said that since 2002 it has contributed to the installation of a cumulative renewable energy capacity of 14.5 gigawatts, representing 40% of the total installed capacity of approximately 35 GW of offshore wind worldwide at the end of 2020.

The European Union aims to install 300 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2050, and worldwide this is expected to hit 2000 GW by this time.

In the Netherlands, the goal is to realise 20 GW by 2030 and another 20 GW of offshore wind energy in the next decade, the company said.

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