Netherlands-based offshore energy equipment engineer KENC has been contracted to design and build a lifting frame for offshore wind projects that are steadily increasing in number.

KENC, which carries out bespoke design projects for many of the biggest names in offshore energy, will design and build a Hammer Quick Lifting Frame (HQLF), which integrates a Balltec quick-connect receptacle with a 750t piling hammer.

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Offshore installation vessel

Photo: KENC

KENC has not revealed further details of the projects for which it is designing its latest HQLF, other than to say it is for two wind farms - one with power generation capacity of 704MW, the other 132MW.

“The scope includes installation aids for easy onsite assembly,” said business development manager Vincent Vinkoert. “The challenge here is to deliver a fatigue friendly lifting frame that is also easy inspectable. KENC’s experience previous and similar lifting frames is the reason KENC is awarded with this scope.

“Our HQLF will be used to lift the full hammer assembly (750t), and will remain on top of the hammer during pile driving. As such it will encounter pile driving accelerations, therefore it has to be fatigue friendly.”

The equipment, he said, would be delivered within the next couple of months and deployed in the summer.

The US has signalled its intention to rapidly increase its offshore wind industry, with the Biden administration setting out a target of 30GW by 2030. While potentially a massive opportunity for the European firms who have been working within this industry for many years, the Jones Act is problematic in them gaining a foothold because of the restrictions on foreign-flagged vessels operating within the US.

“The Jones Act is quite impractical for the construction of offshore wind farms, especially for the larger-scale projects,” Vinkoert told Maritime Journal. “With the current feeder solutions extra lifting and handling is required, which means more risk to your projects. With the current goal of 30GW by 2030, I believe that the US government has to rethink their legislation. Working together with European contractors (vessel owners) seems necessary to meet the ambitious goals.

“I’m very excited to kick of the new year with this beautiful project for our client. The engineering is already in full swing and we look forward to delivering a successful tool in the coming months.”