Offshore Wind

Danish firm Dong Energy has announced the first power generation at the West of Duddon Sands offshore wind farm in the UK.

Located in the East Irish Sea around 14km from the nearest coast on Walney Island, Cumbria, the 389MW project is a 50-50 joint venture between DONG Energy and ScottishPower Renewables, a subsidiary of Iberdrola.

The developers have connected the first four offshore turbines to the grid and that represents the first offshore turbines commissioned by a Spanish company to start electricity generation.

Estimated to cost around £1.6bn, the project will feature 108 Siemens 3.6MW wind turbines with a 120m rotor diameter and generate energy equivalent to meet the electricity needs of more than 300,000 UK households.

So far, the company has installed 42 wind turbines and is currently working on connecting them to the national grid, while construction of some 200km of cables under the sea and 108 foundations have also been completed.

Construction work on both the onshore and offshore parts of the project has been underway for two years now and is expected to be commissioned by late 2014.

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The scope of the offshore work includes installation of foundations and wind turbines, export and array cables and an offshore substation, while the onshore part includes the onshore substation, grid connection in Heysham, Lancashire, and building of new bespoke O&M facilities at the project.

"Construction work on both the onshore and offshore parts of the project has been underway for two years now."

Offshore works is being carried out by purpose-built installation ships: Pacific Orca is used to transport the foundations; and Sea Installer taking the wind turbines and blades out to the designated wind farm location.

Covering a surface area of about 67km2, the project will supply its energy to an offshore substation, where the voltage is raised and then two undersea cables transmit electricity to the onshore Heysham substation, the point of connection to the grid.

ScottishPower Renewables CEO Keith Anderson said more than 1,000 people are currently working on this project, encompassing a wide variety of skill sets from electrical engineers to construction technicians to marine biologists.

Anderson said, "We need all of these individuals to work together as a team to deliver the project, and we are delighted with the progress so far.

"First power is a significant milestone West of Duddon Sands, especially given the challenging weather conditions we have seen in recent months, and it gives us confidence that we will be able to fully complete the project later this year."

Image: West of Duddon Sands. Photo: courtesy of Iberdrola.