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Blade runner

Published:  03 February, 2014

Offshore Design & Engineering Europe reports on the new Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm project in the North Sea currently being developed by Dong Energy. Offshore construction begins during the first half of next year.

The Westermost Rough offshore wind farm project, wholly owned and developed by Danish utility giant Dong Energy, will be located 8 km from the Holderness coast, approximately 25 km North of Spurn Head at the river Humber estuary. Offshore construction will begin in the first half of next year and the wind farm is expected to be fully commissioned in the first half of 2015.

The Westermost Rough offshore wind farm project represents an £800m investment to build 35 new 6MW wind turbines. When complete, the wind farm will generate up to 210 MW of electricity, enough to power 210,000 homes in the UK. Dong Energy confirmed it would invest in the project back in January of this year. The wind farm will be built on the seabed leased to the company by the Crown Estate, which manages the seabed surrounding the UK.

Dong Energy first submitted the planning application for Westermost Rough offshore wind farm in November 2009 and consent was granted by the Department of Energy & Climate Change in November 2011. Last year, Dong Energy applied for a variation to the application so that it could use new technology and install the turbines.

Jobs boon

Hundreds of new jobs are set to be created in North East Lincolnshire after Dong Energy was awarded up to £1.1million from the ‘Growing the Humber’ Regional Growth Fund. The fund is run by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership and North East Lincolnshire Council and supported by the UK Government’s Regional Growth Fund. The grant will aid Dong Energy’s £11.5 million plan to establish its offshore engineering and operations and maintenance bases at the Port of Grimsby and the Royal Dock on the Humber’s south bank. An estimated 100 direct jobs are expected to be created by March 2016, with at least another 100 to come later as part of ongoing developments. In addition, more than 475 indirect jobs are set to be created in vessel and offshore related services in the borough over the next few years.

Dong Energy’s proposal is to set up an offshore engineering and an operations and maintenance base to support the construction and operation of the Westermost Rough offshore wind farm. As a leading UK centre for operations and maintenance, the Port of Grimsby is the closest port in steaming distance to the North Sea wind farms and is already home to other leading operators including Siemens, Centrica, E.ON and RES Offshore.

Dong Energy’s facilities at the Port of Grimsby include offices for staff and also berthing pontoons for operations and maintenance craft which are designed to host up to 12 vessels.

The £1.1million grant was successfully awarded through the £30 million Growing the Humber Regional Growth Fund (RGF), which has attracted more than 220 expressions of interest across the Humber after it was launched in February this year. Dong Energy is one of the first companies to benefit from the ring fenced funding for south bank renewables projects and the investment is expected to have a large impact on the local supply chain.

Growing the Humber supports projects such as capital investment in land, buildings and machinery, research and development projects and workforce development. Growing the Humber is managed by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership and North East Lincolnshire Council which is also the accountable body for the scheme. It was awarded by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund to unlock the development and growth of the area and create sustainable jobs.

Getting connected

All offshore wind farms are connected to the National Grid at a substation inland from the coastline. Westermost Rough will be connected to the National Grid by a substation at Ferndale, Staithes Road. The work to complete the Ferndale substation will take place at the same time as the cabling work, and all of the onshore cabling to connect the offshore wind farm to the grid will be buried underground and so there will be no cabling visible in the area.

Minimised disruption

For the duration of the project’s development, Dong Energy comments that it has made sure to include measures to minimise any disruption to local communities. With this in mind, the company has chosen construction methods that mean all roads within the cabling route will be open throughout the construction period. All construction activity will take place on privately owned land, although there will be some short term temporary works carried out to create accesses onto the privately owned land. Construction routes and traffic have been carefully planned to help minimise impacts both to the public and the environment.

The cable route has been designed to avoid residences where possible, and cabling work will mostly take place during daylight hours. As such, artificial lighting will only be used in the winter months. Dong Energy emphasises that this artificial lighting will always be directed away from nearby properties. The company also claims that it will use proven methods to suppress any dust caused by construction work. All areas will be maintained and returned to their original condition on completion of the works.

Technology providers

The main components for the wind farm are being provided by a number of leading equipment providers used to working successfully on offshore projects; including Siemens, Bladt Industries, CG Electrical Systems, Seaway Heavy Lifting, STX France, Tekmar Energy, LS Cable & Systems and Nexans. Duncan Clark, programme director for Westermost Rough at Dong Energy, commented that as part of Dong Energy’s work to reduce the cost of offshore wind the company has many framework agreements in place with some of the bigger suppliers. “This means that we can get lower prices for some of the more expensive components, by purchasing them in bulk,” he said. “For example, we have recently signed an agreement with Siemens to supply 300 of the 6MW turbines for use at our future UK projects.”

For the Westermost Rough wind farm, Siemens is supplying a total of 35 6MW turbines. Installation will begin before the end of 2014 and it is expected that the handover of the project to customer Dong Energy will take place during the first quarter 2015. Clark MacFarlane, Siemens’ managing director, UK Offshore Wind Power, said of the project: “Wind Power has a key role to play in reducing CO2 emissions, boosting the UK economy through job creation and skills development, as well as helping the Government meet its green energy targets.”

Local expertise

Clark explained that Dong Energy will be using local suppliers as much it can. “We’re actively encouraging local companies to respond to tenders,” he said, “and equally we are encouraging our main suppliers to seek the use of UK companies as second and third tier suppliers wherever it is practically possible for them to do so.”

Tekmar Energy, based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, recently won the Westermost Rough cable protection contract to provide bespoke coverings to protect the infield and export cables from exposure to loads, deformations and fatigue during installation and over the wind farm’s service life. On winning the contact, Tekmar’s chief executive, James Richie, said: “The Westermost Rough project will play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions and contribute towards the UK achieving its targets of electricity generation from renewable energy schemes. This is a significant project for us to be involved in and the fifth time we have worked with Dong Energy. We will be supplying Westermost Rough OWF with our Teklink cable protection system which brings a range of benefits when compared to more traditional cable, installation and protection.”

In comparison with many other subsea cable installations, Tekmar’s Teklink system does not require a j-tube and utilises a remote installation method. This provides enhanced cable life and resilience – reducing the risk of damage and requirement for maintenance and cost saving on foundation. Over the past five years Tekmar has installed more than 2000 cable protection systems and has a further 1000 in design or manufacture for the 26 wind farms it has been involved in across Europe.

Bladt Technologies, who will provide the foundations for the Westermost Rough project, was announced as the leading supplier of offshore substructures in EWEA’s annual report on key offshore trends and statistics for 2012. Last year the company successfully completed some of the world’s largest offshore wind foundation projects with the London Array and Anholt wind farm projects. For the West of Dudden Sands project Bladt manufactured the 108 monopiles and 108 transition pieces, which were ready this July. The recent closure of the Dudden Sands-project marks the beginning of the Westermost Rough project for Bladt Industries, for which the company will be manufacturing 35 new foundations at its facilities in Aalborg.

Hitting the target

Clark remarked that Dong Energy has set a target of reaching installed capacity of 6.5GW by 2020, and Westermost Rough is a key part of hitting that target. “We have a really strong pipeline of wind projects, not just in the UK, but in Denmark and Germany and, that will help us maintain our leading position,” said Clark. He added that Dong Energy is committed to offshore wind, and sees this as a key part of its growth strategy over the coming years. With specific reference to Westermost Rough, he made the point that this is also the first project where Dong Energy will be using the next generation turbine, installing the Siemens 6MW turbine on a commercial scale. “This project site is acting as a testing ground for the new turbines,” he said. “As a Round 2 project, it’s slightly smaller in scale than the larger Round 3 projects that are currently in the development phase, and as such it’s the ideal stepping stone for us to use the 6MW machine as part of our work to reduce the cost of offshore wind.”

Challenges

Clark reflected that there are certain challenges surrounding the designing and building an offshore wind farm, just as there are for more conventional types of power generation. “For offshore wind the weather can be a very challenging factor,” he said. “Because we are lifting heavy loads and large pieces of equipment at height, we need to ensure that there is not a lot of wind, which of course can be tricky when you are building in a site that has been identified because it is windy.”

In order to combat this, Clark explained that Dong Energy has worked very closely with suppliers and partners to modify or create equipment suitable to its needs, as offshore projects get more complex (larger, new technology, farther out to sea etc.). “A2SEA [the offshore wind installation and service solutions provider] is a good example of this,” he said. “We can see the outcome of that collaboration in their next generation vessels, which have been designed with future Round 3 projects in mind, and with the capacity to install newer, larger turbines such as the 6MW machine A2SEA’s Sea Installer constructed at our Gunfleet Sands demonstration site in Essex earlier this year.”

Comparing costs

And how does the cost of such a project compare overall with a similar-sized conventional plant project? “It’s not practical to try and compare the costs of offshore wind with conventional power plants,” maintains Clark. “To give an idea of the cost of an offshore wind project, Westermost Rough offshore wind farm represents a total investment of approximately £800 million (€1 billion) including the construction of the transmission assets (inter-array and export cables, and the offshore substation).”

On the Westermost Rough wind farm project, Benj Sykes, Dong Energy Wind Power UK’s country manager, concluded: “This is the first project that we have brought forward to construction in the North-East and we are looking forward to working in the area during construction and over the 20 years during the operational life of the wind farm. We are excited about the potential of this new technology and deploying the 6MW turbine on this scale. We are committed to reducing the cost of energy through the deployment of new technologies, and Westermost Rough will provide a tangible example of how we are doing just that.”

Dong Energy UK at a glance

Dong Energy is one of the leading offshore wind farm developers in the world, with more than 20 years’ experience in the wind power industry. The company’s offshore wind farms are based in Northern Europe; it has installed over 1GW of offshore wind power so far and has set a target to reach 6.5GW of installed capacity in Northern Europe by 2020.

Dong Energy’s UK offshore portfolio includes four projects that are operational, currently two under construction, and a pipeline of future wind farms under development. The company is a partner in the world’s largest offshore wind farm, London Array, and owns a 33.3% stake in the Heron Wind and Njord wind farms, that together represent the first gigawatt of development in the Hornsea Zone, which is being developed by SMart Wind Ltd.

Dong Energy comments that it is committed to investing in providing renewable energy generation infrastructure for the UK. Its total committed investment in renewable energy in the UK to date is £3 billion.

Key facts about the Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm project

Location: 8km from the Holderness Coast.

Area: 35km.

Number of Turbines: 35.

Type of Turbine: 6MW.

Power Capacity: 210MW.

Approximate number of UK homes powered: 210,000.

Onshore construction start: April 2013.

Offshore construction start: first half of 2014.

Fully commissioned and operational: first half of 2015.

Key dates

Onshore cabling work began in April 2013 and is planned to finish in Spring 2014. The company will be providing construction newsletters throughout this period to keep you updated.

Offshore construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2014, with the offshore wind farm fully commissioned in the first half of 2015.

Key suppliers at a glance

Turbines: Siemens.

Foundations: Bladt Industries.

Offshore substation – transformer: CG Electrical Systems.

Offshore substation – installation: Seaway Heavy Lifting.

Offshore substation –steel construction: STX France.

Offshore eksport cable: LS Cable & Systems.

Cable protection: Tekmar Energy.

Array cable: Nexans.

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