Offshore Wind Round-Up

Offshore wind developments have been making the headlines in recent months, with both good and bad news for some of the UK’s biggest renewable energy projects. Let’s take a look at some of the key developments. 

Gwynt y Môr Offshore Wind Farm
Work is coming on well at Gwynt y Môr, which is set to become fully-operational later in 2014. The 160 turbine wind farm, located in Liverpool Bay off the North Wales coast, has recently seen a 10 berth pontoon come into service, making it faster and easier for engineers and technicians to access the offshore site and work on the turbines.

The new pontoon is an important development in the 576MW project’s construction, which will supply up to 400,000 homes with green electricity when completed.

Humber Gateway
24 wind turbine foundations have now been installed at the Humber Gateway Offshore Wind Farm, with the remaining 49 due to follow in April. The £700m project is located in relatively shallow waters off the coast of East Yorkshire, where it spreads over an area of 10 square miles.

Project developers E.ON have recently recruited an extra 13 people to their Operations team, based in a new £3m site at Grimsby dock, to help construct the wind farm. The turbines should be fully-operational in 2015, generating enough electricity to power up to 170,000 local homes.

West of Duddon Sands Offshore Wind Farm Project
Located 20km off the Barrow coast, West of Duddon Sands is one of the world’s biggest offshore wind farms with a 389MW capacity – enough to power around 300,000 homes. The project achieved a major milestone on 28 January 2014 when its first four turbines started exporting power to the national grid.

West of Duddon Sands currently employs more than 1,000 people. Over a third of its turbines have now been installed and construction should be complete by the end of 2014.

Westermost Rough
DONG Energy’s 210MW Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm also reached a landmark in its development recently, when the first of its 35 foundations was installed off the East Yorkshire coast. The project marks the very first use of the new Siemens 6MW turbine, which should help lower offshore wind costs in the future.

Located just north of the Humber Gateway development, Westermost Rough is bringing more much-needed investment to the area, with DONG Energy spending £11 on creating a new operations base at the Port of Grimsby.

And in other news…
Some of the less positive developments so far in 2014 include the cancellation of Phase 2 of the London Array, due to concerns over the potential impact on local birdlife. RWE has also pulled out of the Atlantic Array development, citing technical and financial issues, and Forewind’s Dogger Bank development in Yorkshire has been scaled back by 20%.

Wilding says: It’s definitely a mixed bag at the moment when it comes to offshore wind projects. Changes in financial subsidies, environmental issues and concerns around climate change targets have all contributed to some high-profile projects being cancelled or scaled down. But there’s plenty of good news around, too – just look at the fantastic progress that other projects are making. There are certainly lots of reasons to stay positive.

Sources: Various