The first commercial power from MHI Vestas’ V164-8.0 MW wind turbines has been achieved after energization of Dong Energy’s 258-MW Burbo Bank Extension offshore wind project in UK waters.
The park’s completion — with a total of 32 turbines — is expected within the first quarter of 2017 and will generate enough energy to meet the average needs of up to 230,000 homes.
Claus Bøjle Møller, Burbo Bank Extension program director, stated: “First power is a key milestone for us because it proves that every part of the transmission and generation equipment is successfully working. We’re progressing well with the construction of the wind farm thanks to a huge effort from our construction team and our contractors.”
Speaking to Renewable Energy World, Bøjle Møller said that the project brought Dong Energy an ideal opportunity to trial the new turbines.
“The project characteristics, development timeline and medium size meant it was a perfect fit to trial the 8-MW offshore turbines, and become a platform to gain experience and if successful roll out the same model for other projects,” he said.
Advent of MHI Vestas’ V164-8.0 has been widely heralded as a significant milestone for the offshore wind industry due in large part to its scale.
Remarking on what the turbines and Burbo Bank Extension represents in relation to the industry’s progression, Bøjle Møller said: “Burbo Bank Extension is a great case study because at Burbo Bank [inaugurated in 2007] we were also the first in the world to install the 3.6-MW turbines offshore. Now we have extended the wind farm, we are again the first in the world to be using the 8-MW turbines offshore and these are the most powerful offshore wind turbines available.”
Bøjle Møller calls the progression of wind turbine generators in the last 20 years “phenomenal.”
“The first offshore wind turbines used at Vindeby [Denmark] were 0.45 MW with a tower height of 35m,” he said. “The [MHI Vestas’ V164-]8 MW are 113m in tower height, and with 80m blades have a swept area larger than the London Eye!”
He added: “It’s thanks to this constant innovation and economies of scale that the offshore wind sector has grown so fast.”
Indeed, scale ensured the turbine took the world record for production by a single wind turbine in 24-hour period — 192 MWh.
Looking to the future, Bøjle Møller expects the trend for larger turbines to continue.
“Using bigger turbines reduces the costs so each step change in technology is really exciting news for the whole industry,” he said. “There are future plans looking at 10 MW and even 12 MW turbine,s so the industry is constantly evolving.”
Providing perspective on the cost-benefits of extending existing wind farms, in contrast to beginning projects from scratch, Bøjle Møller said: “There are many benefits to extending a wind farm, not least good knowledge of the area, but perhaps the most significant is being able to build on an existing team of high performing people.”
He continued: “It also makes financial sense to be able to pool resources. We have just announced a multi-million pound operations and maintenance center, which will service both wind farms when the extension is operational, and will provide big cost benefits by being able to share facilities.”
Utilization of more cost-effective wind turbines is key to Dong Energy’s business strategy and pursuit of a greener energy portfolio.
“Cost reduction is also a key pillar in DONG Energy’s vision; our aim is to reduce costs by 35 to 40 percent by 2020 (compared to 2012 figures). By using bigger turbines, we get economies of scale and therefore lower costs,” Bøjle Møller said.
Its green endeavour is one the company is making swift progress in, as Bøjle Møller explained: “In 2006, 15 percent of DONG Energy’s electricity and heat production was based on renewable energy. In 2015 our renewable energy share was 55 percent. By increasing our share of renewable energy we reduced our CO2 emissions by 48 percent.”
He added that the company’s target is to reduce CO2 emissions from power and heat generation by 60 percent between 2006 and 2020, the most ambitious target amongst the company’s European peers, according to Bøjle Møller.
“We will rely on new projects, such as Burbo Bank Extension, and new technology, such as the V164s to achieve this,” he said.
In this context, Burbo Bank Extension plays a significant role in Dong Energy’s UK portfolio said Bøjle Møller.
“The UK is a key market for DONG Energy; since 2004 we have invested over £6 billion here, and we expect to invest that much again by 2020,” he said. “Our eight operating wind farms in the UK have over 2 GW of installed capacity, enough green electricity to power over 2 million UK homes annually, and the 258-MW extension at Burbo Bank will increase this by nearly a quarter of a million.”
Dong Energy is presently involved in developing a further three offshore wind projects in the UK: Race Bank, Walney Extension and Hornsea Project One.
Of the latter, Bøjle Møller said: “Hornsea Project One, which will be the biggest windfarm in the world when built, will be the first offshore windfarm with over 1GW capacity, capable of supplying well over 1 million homes,” said Bøjle Møller.
Offering a concluding thought, Bøjle Møller said: “DONG Energy’s vision is for offshore wind to be cheaper than fossil fuels. Throughout the company’s history we have pioneered the use of new technology and Burbo Bank Extension fits well in our drive for constant innovation.”
Images credit: Vestas