See the region’s biggest offshore wind farm taking shape 25 miles out to sea
Archant Norfolk 2018
The East Anglia ONE wind farm off the coast of Lowestoft is beginning to take shape. Business writer Bethany Whymark and visual specialist Antony Kelly went out to sea to see the progress.
While it is not yet visible from land, the latest of East Anglia’s offshore wind farms is taking shape in the North Sea.
East Anglia ONE is being built 46km off the coast at Lowestoft by ScottishPower Renewables.
Construction began in 2017 with work on the onshore substation and cabling around Ipswich.
The offshore work, which will eventually see 102 190m wind turbines installed, began this year – and the project managers are so far pleased with progress.
A 1.5 hour journey on one of the company’s transit vessels brings you to the site, where the yellow turbine jackets standing stationary in the choppy water hint at the mammoth engineering project to come.
Matt Wooltorton, project execution manager at East Anglia ONE, is in charge of the construction and commissioning stage of the project.
He has previously worked on the Dudgeon wind farm, off the north Norfolk coast, which began operating last autumn.
He said: “It [East Anglia ONE] has been really, really successful so far, there have been a lot of key milestones with the start of the construction of the piles and our campaign with the jack-up is on target.
“The project is built sequentially – one part has to finish before the next one can commence.”
Mr Wooltorton said the construction project, which began in 2017, was so far on track with construction of the turbines due to commence on schedule in 2019.
The turbines, which have a blade span of 154m, will be pre-assembled at a facility in Great Yarmouth before being shipped out to the wind farm site.
They are expected to be in situ and generating full power by 2020.
This is when Mr Wooltorton will hand over responsibility to Tommy Rudd, deputy site manager at East Anglia ONE’s operations and maintenance base in Lowestoft, which will oversee the wind farm’s day-to-day running.
The operations and maintenance (O&M) base being constructed at Hamilton Dock is expected to create around 100 jobs.
Mr Rudd said: “It is fantastic to see the O&M building being erected and it is a great rejuvenation for the area.
“We are going to be running the daily operations of the wind farm, making sure it runs at capacity and generates as much energy and income as possible.”
What is East Anglia ONE?
It is the first of the East Anglia array wind farms to be built by ScottishPower Renewables.
It comprises 102 wind turbines, capable of generating 714MW (megawatts) of energy, built 46km off the coast at Lowestoft in water depths of 40-45m.
It will be supported by an onshore substation at Bramford, near Ipswich.
Building a wind farm
Manufacture of products for East Anglia ONE is taking place all over the world.
The piles (which attach the wind turbine jackets to the seabed) were made in Jinan, China.
The jacket foundations were constructed in Dubai, Belfast and Fene, Spain. They weigh up to 845 tonnes a-piece and are up to 65m high.
The offshore substation – installed this year – was produced in Cadiz, Spain. The topside, weighing 3,714 tonnes, is supported by a piled four-legged jacket foundation weighing 2,265 tonnes.
The wind turbines will be built and installed by Siemens Gamesa, with various components made in Hull and Cuxhaven, Germany. They will produce 7MW of power each and be 190m high from base to blade tip. Their blade span will be 154m and the blade length will be similar to the wingspan of an Airbus A380 aircraft.
The wind turbine components will be received and pre-assembled at Great Yarmouth port, then loaded onto a separate installation vessel.
Other components will be shipped to Vlissingen in the Netherlands where they will be stored before being installed offshore.
How will it work?
Individual wind turbine generators will be connected via array cables to the offshore substation. In total, 102 66kV (kilovolt) cables from the turbines will be laid with an overall length of 136km.
Energy will be exported along two submarine export cables (with a total length of 65km), making landfall at Bawdsey in Suffolk. It will then travel 37km via the onshore cable to connect to the onshore substation at Bramford.
The 30,000 sqm substation will transform the energy up to 400kV and connect to the National Grid.
Lowestoft will be centre of operations during construction process, including monitoring all traffic in and out of the wind farm site, and a permanent base is being built there to form the centre of operations and maintenance activities during the wind farm’s 25-year life span.