Jan de Nul orders new offshore wind giant

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 27 November 2019


Just six months after the investment announcement for the offshore installation vessel Voltaire, Belgium-based Jan De Nul Group has ordered Les Alizés, a floating installation crane vessel from the China Merchants Heavy Industry (CMHI) Haimen shipyard in China.

Together with the Voltaire, this new vessel will be in a super-size class of its own, capable of building the newest generation of offshore wind farms. Les Alizés, will be ready in 2022 and is equipped with a crane having a lifting capacity of 5,000 tonnes and equally impressive lifting heights.

Les Alizés is specifically designed for loading, transporting, lifting and installing offshore wind turbine foundations. The main features are a main crane of 5,000 tonness, a deck loading capacity of 61,000 tonnes and a deck space of 9,300 m². With these characteristics, Les Alizés can easily transport the heavier future foundations, several in one trip, to the offshore installation site, with direct benefits in planning, fuel consumption and emissions reduction.


Unlike the Voltaire, Les Alizés does not have four legs to lift itself above the sea surface. It is a crane vessel for floating installation, which means that the vessel is not dependent on the water depths and the seabed conditions. Les Alizés is equipped with a high-performance DP2 system.

It will mainly be used for the construction of offshore wind farms, but with her impressive crane she is also extremely suitable for decommissioning offshore oil and gas platforms. Thanks to her dimensions and impressive lifting and loading capacities, Les Alizés will be able to load out, transport and install multiple units of the largest and heaviest wind turbine foundations. In addition, as a crane vessel that floats, it will be able to install heavier and larger foundations into deeper waters and in more challenging seabed conditions.

This vessel investment is a response to the global trend within the offshore wind energy sector to design and install increasingly larger wind turbines. This new generation of turbine can be more than 270m high, with blades up to 120m long and sit on foundations of up to 2,500 tonnes. The offshore installation vessels currently available on the market are experiencing great difficulties in installing these new turbines and their heavier foundations, with their enormous dimensions and installation weights.

Philippe Hutse, Offshore Director at Jan De Nul Group, explained, "We continue to invest in the future of offshore renewable energy. By ordering Les Alizés today, from 2022 we will have not one, but two, offshore installation vessels that will be able to install the newest generation of offshore wind farms. This is how we offer our customers the most efficient installation method. Similar to the Voltaire, we have financed this investment by means of a green loan thanks to the green emissions reduction technology on board the vessel. During the design phase, as is the case for all our new vessels, we studied very carefully the environmental impact and the solutions to minimise that impact."

Peter De Pooter, Manager Offshore Renewables at Jan De Nul Group said, "The order of the Voltaire was a first step in our strategy to install the newest generation of offshore wind turbines. With Les Alizés we want to further strengthen our vision and our belief in the future of offshore wind energy. We want to be a major and enduring player in this sector. For that reason, we continue to invest in the further expansion of our offshore renewables department."

When designing the vessel, Jan De Nul Group took into account the environmental impact. Jan De Nul tackles environmental challenges by focusing on reducing the footprint of its activities, particularly on water and air quality, and on the climate. Air pollution is one of the greatest threats to public health. Construction activities at sea are usually located close to coastlines, large and small ports, and densely populated areas. The Group is aware that, regardless of the choice of fuel or engine technology, the exhaust gases must always be filtered.

As one of the world's leading players in hydraulic engineering, Jan De Nul Group pioneers in the field of such an emission treatment. The latest generation of Jan De Nul's vessels is equipped with an exhaust gas filtering technology that complies with the strict European EURO STAGE V guidelines for emissions on land and inland waterways. So it will be for Les Alizés.

The highly advanced dual exhaust filter system removes up to 99% of nanoparticles from emissions using a diesel particulate filter (DPF) followed by selective catalytic reduction system (SCR) for NOx removal. As a result of these exhaust filtering systems, Les Alizés and the Voltaire will be the first seaworthy installation vessels in the world with extremely low emissions (Ultra-Low Emission Vessel or ULEv for short) and with EURO STAGE V certification (ULEv notation).

Les Alizés will also have a Cleanship NDO7 label and a Green Passport EU label. The Cleanship label confirms that the vessel checks and minimises the waste water and all other residual waste. The second Green Passport label means that all materials and hazardous substances are mapped out during the construction phase, in order to facilitate the recycling of the vessel when decommissioning. Both certificates are issued by a specialized external agency.

On 5 July 2019, Jan De Nul Group concluded an agreement for a green loan with a consortium of five banks, led by KBC Bank, for the financing of both investments. The consortium of five banks consists of KBC Bank, BNP Paribas Fortis, ING Luxembourg, Rabobank and Belfius Bank.

This transaction is an important milestone and first for both Jan De Nul Group and KBC Bank. For Jan De Nul Group this is the first green loan, and for KBC it is the first syndicated green loan within the shipping sector. A green loan should be used in its entirety to finance green projects.

Paul Lievens, CFO at Jan De Nul Group: "We are proud to be able to take out our first green loan in Belgium. This will finance our two brand new vessels, Voltaire and Les Alizés, where both will mainly be used for the installation and maintenance of offshore wind farms. In this way, we are responding to the increasing worldwide demand for green energy and a growing offshore market."

Luc Popelier, CEO International Markets Division KBC Group added, "KBC is proud to have been able to assist Jan De Nul as coordinator and sustainability coordinator, in the development of this syndicated green loan. We built on our existing knowledge and experience with green bonds to structure and coordinate this green syndicated loan. Among other things, KBC was also responsible for the elaboration of the Green Financing Framework, which describes the criteria that these sustainable vessels have to meet in order to be eligible for the green loan. During the design phase, Jan De Nul studied very carefully the environmental impact and the solutions to minimize that impact. This is a good example of how we deal with sustainable financing and actively contribute to the environmental challenges."

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