A European marine engineering company has ordered an offshore wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV) with double the deck space of its existing vessels and a crane to lift more than 3,000 tons.

The Luxembourg-based Jan De Nul Group will have the offshore jack-up Voltaire built by Cosco Shipping Heavy Industry in China for delivery in 2022. The design is a portent of the much bigger, more powerful wind-driven generators that are coming.

“The global offshore wind industry is developing the next generation of offshore wind turbines. These turbines can be more than 270 meters (885’) high and are fitted with blades of 120 meters (394’) long,” according to the announcement from Jan De Nul . “Offshore installation vessels currently available on the market are facing increasing difficulties to install these types of turbines due to the turbines’ sizes and installation heights, as well as the ever-increasing foundation dimensions.”

Those next generation turbines, like the 12-megawatt GE Haliade under development, will be the standard too for new U.S. offshore wind energy arrays, according to developers. Combined with planned developments in Europe and Asia, the future machines will place demands on a small WTIV fleet that will be strained to meet demands.

With no U.S. flag WTIV on the ways yet, the availability of adequate foreign-flag heavy lift capability – which could be used in conjunction with U.S. flag “feeder barges” to carry components to the construction sites – is a major issue for the emerging U.S. market.

“Upon her delivery in 2022, we will be capable of efficiently installing the next generation of offshore wind turbine generators and foundations. This investment is a logical step forward in the development of our offshore wind capacities,” said Phillippe Hutse, offshore director at the Jan De Nul Group.

“The third jack-up vessel will enable us to cope with our increased number of offshore wind projects worldwide. In addition, we recognize the global trend towards larger wind turbines for increased green energy demand,” said Hutse.

The Voltaire will transport, lift and install offshore wind turbines, transition pieces and foundations – with much expanded operational limits compared to the company’s existing jack-up vessels.

The main crane will have heavy lift capability of over 3,000 tons. The Voltaire will have a payload of 14,000 tons, and accommodations for 100 crew and workers. Compared to Jan De Nul’s two other jack-up vessels, the Vole au ventand the Taillevent, the Voltaire will have almost double the deck space.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.