A pioneering wind farm off the coast of Blyth in Northumberland has reached its latest milestone, with the first of five turbines beginning its journey up the River Tyne to commence installation.
Developer EDF Energy Renewables is currently building the 41.5MW Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstrator Wind Farm in North East England after taking over responsibility for the project from Narec – now named ORE Catapult – in October 2014.
The project will see five MHI Vestas V164 wind turbines installed 6.5km off the coast of Blyth, which are projected to generate enough electricity to power around 34,000 homes.
It is the first offshore wind development to use a ‘float and submerge’ method for installation, with the concrete foundations first floated along the Tyne and into position at sea, before being submerged onto the seabed to provide the support structures for the turbines.
The installation method reduces the need for expensive marine equipment for the installation on the seabed, according to EDF Renewables’ chief executive, Matthieu Hue.
“This is the first major offshore operation on this project and over the coming months people will be able to see the wind farm being built out at sea,” he added. “This ground-breaking scheme will benefit the North East of England and help the UK to meet its future low carbon electricity needs.”
Designed and built by construction firm BAM Nuttall in the Neptune dry dock on the Tyne over the past year, each 60m-long gravity-based foundation (GBF) is made up of more than 1,800 square metres of concrete and will weigh over 15,000 tonnes when fully installed on the seabed.
Once the GBFs are put into position over the summer, specialist contractor VBMS will start laying the inter array cables that will connect the individual wind turbines, each of which have a power rating of 8.3MW.
EDF Energy Renewables claims these MHI Vestas turbines are the largest to be used on an offshore wind farm, and anticipates they will start generating power by the end of the year.
It is the company’s second offshore wind farm development in the UK after the Teesside project off the coast of Redcar.
The cost-saving innovations deployed on the project care part of a wider trend that has seen the industry slash costs by around 40 per cent in recent years.
Energy industry experts are increasingly confidence an auction for a new wave of offshore wind farms scheduled this autumn will deliver further cost reductions from the sector as developers compete to curb the overall cost of offshore wind power.