The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

London Array – Getting Up Close and Personal to Offshore Wind

Think a fifty-year Crown Estate lease is a long time? Try just fifty minutes on the foredeck of the Smeaton Array, a high-speed ship operating in a strong swell, at the foot of a 3.6-MW spinning Siemens offshore wind turbine unit. In the snow.

That’s where I found myself on Wednesday last week, following an invitation to join the team on-site at London Array.  And despite the changeable weather, Offshore Site Manager, Stephen Reynolds and Skipper, Neill Austen, were in good spirits.

Something no doubt helped by confirmation earlier in March that the site has now surpassed the generating capacity of nearby Greater Gabbard, to become the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

In pure numbers alone, that means that in the past seven days the site was producing roughly 41 GWh, with a peak of nearly 11 GWh in a single 24-hour period.

Impressive statistics.  All the more so given that 143 turbines had been commissioned, and a total of 166 units energised, by the end of last week.

In fact, the success to date demonstrates the very real potential and viability of this high risk/return growth area of the market.

And those risks — be under no illusion — really are high.

Indeed, while London Array has quickly become the poster child of the offshore wind market, installing the last of the 175 turbines on schedule and (just!) before the 2013 New Year celebrations began, the project has not quite been problem free.

Realistically, no project of this size ever could be.

For London Array, that meant an expensive (and high profile) conversation with the City, following cable damage incurred almost exactly one year ago — on 16th March 2012.

And since the project was already beginning to export electricity to the grid, the final bill is still open for debate.  However, following a quick and competitive tender process, the cable repair was completed in just 12 weeks.

Irrespective, work on the site has continued apace.  And it was only recently that many of the crew transfer vessels were moved off a pattern of 24/7 operations.

Evidently then, there’s change afoot.

There may still be a handful of turbines to commission and energise but given the hurdles that have already been overcome, the view from Stephen is that’s comparatively straightforward.  And the handover by the construction crew to the 90-strong operations and maintenance unit is already underway.

The focus then, is already starting to shift.

Make no mistake, the first phase of this particular project has been a herculean task.  A challenge that’s thrown together three very different project partners who’ve had to work together for a common goal.  It has pushed individuals out of their comfort zones and walked the tightrope of balancing investor expectations with the needs and concerns of the local community.

But the thing is, for a project of this size and scale, this really is just the start.

The development team already have consent conditions in place on the second phase — following concerns regarding the migratory habits of the Red Throated Diver — and a report that provides further detail on the matter is now with DECC.

And then there’s the challenge of the existing units, that have only now started long term operation on the main site.  This winter has provided the first test and there’ll be plenty more inclement English weather to come.

Indeed, with two 6-MW super structures already undergoing early-stage testing at Gunfleet Sands, questions regarding re-powering and operational upgrades won’t be far from many minds.  And while the operational lifecycle of the turbines is widely expected to be anywhere between 20 – 25 years, that clock continues to tick.

Since initial consent in December 2006, London Array has moved quickly to develop, construct and set spinning a flagship wind industry initiative.

Its future success depends as much on the site decisions made now and over the next five, ten and fifteen years, as it does on those already made. One to watch.

This article was originally published on A Word About Wind and was republished with permission.

Lead image via London Array Limited

Untitled Document

RELATED ARTICLES

Solar Beats Gas in Colorado

Christopher Martin, Bloomberg SunEdison Inc., the biggest clean-energy developer, began construction on a Colorado solar farm that will be the larg...

US Offshore Wind Gets a Much Needed Boost

Vince Font Construction of the first U.S. offshore wind farm is underway off the coast of Rhode Island, and earlier this month s...

Why Renewable Energy in Latin America is a Winner

Carlos Candiales Renewable energy in Latin America has made some important gains over the last decade and seems positioned to continue...

US Wind Energy Selling At Record Low Price of 2.5 Cents per kWh

Andrew Burger Wind power prices have dropped down to an all-time low of just 2.5 cents per kWh, far below the average national aver...

PRESS RELEASES

Intersolar AWARD „Solar Projects in India“ – Applications being accepted until September 18

The Intersolar AWARD in the category Solar Projects in India honors projects in the fie...

OFS Announces Commercial Availability of InvisiLight® MDU Optical Solution for Multiple Dwelling Units

OFS, a leading-edge designer, manufacturer and supplier of innovative fiber optic netwo...

New local energy partnership brings innovative solar tracker to Washington State

A new partnership will bring the innovative AllEarth Solar Tracker solar electric syste...

30 days to GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

The Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) has announced that it is only 30 days to go to t...

FEATURED BLOGS

Cronimet / THEnergy study: In solar for mines size does not always matter - Reducing CAPEX with energy efficiency and load shifting

Munich, September 2015. Mining companies are constantly gaining interest in solar solutions because frequently solar ...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program from

Vacancy? No Problem!

Have you ever tried to sell an efficiency product or service to a prospect that owns or manages a building with high ...

Shedding Some Light on a Taxing Situation for Community-Shared Solar

For renters and for property owners with inadequate roof space, the many benefits of solar electricity may seem out o...

FINANCIAL NEWS

I am the founder of Tamarindo Communications and the publisher of A Word About Wind. Tamarindo Communications enables businesses and individuals to build reputations, encourage greater customer loyalty and ultimately, increase the value of thei...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Global Wind Energy Council Presents: Doing Business in Europe

There is now 128.8 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the EU (appro...

Doing Business in South Africa – in partnership with GWEC, the Glob...

Wind Energy in South Africa has been expanding dramatically, growing fro...

International Energy and Sustainability Conference 2015

The fourth International Energy and Sustainability Conference will be he...

COMPANY BLOGS

Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

Fact Check: AWEA represents American wind power

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is proud of its members for ...

Koch Professor drops his Koch title, still makes same errors plus s...

The Koch Professor’s title isn’t the only thing that’s...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS