Algeciras Sets Sail into Wind Energy with Dragados Offshore’s Mega Project

Thousand Jobs and Diversification on Horizon as Spanish Contractor Eyes German North Sea Ventures.

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Algeciras is set to venture into the burgeoning wind energy sector through Dragados Offshore, a prominent engineering contractor in the energy industry. Owned by the French Vinci Group through Cobra, the company is gearing up for its entry into the harbor for the construction of wind energy converter stations destined for the German North Sea.

This strategic move is anticipated to generate a thousand jobs in the Campo de Gibraltar region, thereby fostering diversification. Dragados Offshore, headquartered in Puerto Real (Cádiz) with one of its primary manufacturing yards, has formally requested a concession from the port authority led by Gerardo Landaluce. The application seeks to occupy a 405,000 square meters area in the Campamento zone, San Roque municipality, with 23,200 square meters dedicated to the outer dock, featuring a 263-meter-long berthing facility.

The engineering proposal specifically outlines activities for “manufacturing, mechanical completion, and onshore testing of conversion superstructures with a capacity of two gigawatts (GW).” These offshore platforms capture alternating current generated by wind farms, transforming it into high-voltage direct current (HVDC). Subsequently, the HVDC is reversed into alternating current at onshore stations.

The construction of these platforms is expected to create a thousand jobs in the Campo de Gibraltar, facilitating the diversification of the harbor, as highlighted by Gerardo Landaluce, the president of the port authority. These deep-sea converters weigh 34,000 tons, with 24,000 tons attributed to the upper part or ‘topside,’ comprising multiple stories, and 10,000 tons to the support or ‘jacket.’

This Spanish contractor’s project, which also constructs offshore platforms for oil and gas companies, has successfully navigated the competition stage and is currently in the public information phase. The company, under ACS until December 2021, has applied for land exploitation rights in Campamento until 2040.

The transition to renewable energy is driving the construction of wind-related structures and components in Spain. Manufacturers of increasingly larger and more powerful equipment are experiencing a favorable period, evident in their substantial presence or demand in ports across the country, such as those in the north, the Canary Islands, and Cádiz and Cartagena, among others.

“Dragados Offshore has contracts in its pipeline that cannot be executed in the Cádiz plant due to space constraints,” according to port authority sources. In Algeciras, the company will “receive modules from suppliers via the sea, which will be assembled with locally manufactured components for testing before transporting the platform to the North Sea.” These structures are typically transported via heavy lift vessels or large barges towed by multiple tugboats.

In addition to the manufacturing yard in the port of Cádiz, spanning 510,000 square meters on the La Cabezuela dock, Dragados Offshore has facilities in Tampico and Altamira, Mexico, and commercial offices in Houston, USA. Notably, the Puerto Real infrastructure is equipped with 22 manufacturing workshops, some specializing in pipes, sandblasting, and painting, along with an 86,000 square meter storage area.

The contract for the three platforms awarded by TenneT to the Dragados Offshore-Siemens Energy consortium was signed in April of the previous year in Berlin. This project aligns with Germany’s Energy Transition Plan and is part of a larger 30 billion euros contract for the development of 14 current conversion systems in the North Sea wind farms. To date, this stands as the largest infrastructure contract in Europe’s energy transition history.

Dragados Offshore is tasked with supplying the maritime platforms, encompassing design, detailed engineering, construction, loading, transportation, installation, connection, and commissioning. These activities are contingent upon the challenges of handling equipment in the open sea, often in adverse weather conditions. The HVDC systems fall under the purview of their partner, Siemens Energy.

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