Five gravity based foundations (GBFs) have now been installed off the coast of Blyth to mark the latest stage of a pioneering offshore wind farm development using a new “float and submerge” process.
EDF Energy Renewables is currently delivering the Blyth Offshore Demonstrator Wind Farm after taking over responsibility for the scheme from ORE Catapult (formerly Narec) in October 2014.
Designed and built by Royal BAM Group in the Neptune dry dock on the Tyne, the GBFs were floated into position off the coast of Northumberland and submerged onto the seabed and further ballasted to provide the support structures that act as the foundations for the turbines.
BAM Nuttall regional director, Gareth Farrier, said: “This is a significant milestone in both the construction of the Blyth project and in the development of the BAM gravity base foundation. I would like to express my own and BAM’s appreciation for the hard work and professionalism of the BAM and Strukton marine teams in successfully completing the world’s first float and submerge installation for wind farm foundations.”
Cable laying works being carried out by VBMS are now underway.
Around 11 kilometres of buried 66Kv offshore cables will connect the individual turbines and bring the electricity onshore, where a further 1.5 kilometre of onshore cable will link directly to a new substation built on part of the site of the former Blyth power station.
Managing director of VBMS, Arno van Poppel said: “VBMS is very proud to be the first company connecting a UK offshore wind farm to the grid using state-of-the-art 66kV subsea cables.”
Installation of five MHI Vestas V164 turbines will begin in mid-September targeting first power being generated later this year. The turbines will have a power rating of 8.3MW – the largest to be used on an offshore wind farm.
EDF Energy Renewables director of operations, Don Mackay, said: “This is an important milestone in a ground-breaking project. The Blyth offshore wind demonstrator project incorporates several new and innovative features as part of its role in testing and proving new and emerging offshore installation methods and technologies. In addition, the windfarm will benefit the local community and help the country to meet its low-carbon energy needs.”
“The demonstration scheme will set a new technology benchmark for other similar offshore wind developments around the country.”
Installed around 6.5km off the coast of Blyth, the turbines have a total generating capacity of 41.5MW and once operational will produce enough low carbon electricity to power around 34,000 homes. Wholly owned by EDF Energies Nouvelles, the Blyth Offshore Demonstrator project is being built by EDF Energy Renewables, a 50-50 UK joint venture between EDF Energies Nouvelles and EDF Energy. Previously, EDF ER has constructed the Teesside wind farm off the North East coast at Redcar.