The UK’s offshore wind industry received a dual boost this week, as Green Investment Group (GIG) stepped up its interest in the sector and the first foundations were installed at the EOWDC project off the Scottish coast.
GIG, the former government-backed Green Investment Bank which is now owned by infrastructure banking giant Macquarie, announced this morning it has acquired a 25 per cent interest in Westermost Rough offshore wind farm from Marubeni Corporation.
The deal, financial details for which were not disclosed, strengthens GIG’s interest in the 210MW project. The company is already part of a consortium with Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 5 (MEIF5) and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) that owns a 25 per cent stake in Westermost Rough. Danish energy giant Ørsted owns the remaining 50 per cent stake in the project.
Located off the Holderness coast, the project consists of 35 Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy 6MW direct-drive turbines. It has been in commercial operation since June 2015.
“Westermost Rough is a landmark project in the evolution of the offshore wind industry, both in the UK and internationally,” said Edward Northam, Head of GIG in Europe, noting that it was the first project to commercially deploy the 6MW Siemens Gamesa turbines. “The technical and financial innovations deployed during the development, construction and operation of the wind farm have helped improve performance levels and reduce the cost of wind power generation, making it significantly more cost competitive.”
The move comes just a day after leading offshore wind energy developer Vattenfall announced it had successfully installed the first of its “gigantic, game-changing suction bucket jacket foundations” at the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay.
The milestone takes the project – which was the subject of fierce opposition from Donald Trump, who owns a neighbouring golf course – a major step closer to its goal of delivering enough power to meet 70 per cent of Aberdeen’s demand.
Vattenfall said the new foundations were successfully installed in just 15 hours, after one of the world’s largest floating cranes – the 25,000 tonne Asian Hercules III – was deployed on Sunday to transport the 1,800 tonne structure.
Advocates of the suction bucket foundation design are confident it can significantly reduce the cost of offshore wind turbine foundations, further curbing the cost of the resulting power.
“The EOWDC is a cornerstone of Vattenfall’s and the industry’s drive for innovative cost reduction in offshore wind,” said Gunnar Groebler, Vattenfall’s senior vice president of Business Area Wind. “To be fossil free within one generation a climate smart offshore wind programme embracing science and technology is really important for Vattenfall. Where appropriate, we are keen to see the EOWDC’s novel approach to foundations – along with all its other innovations – rolled out to the rest of the industry.”