World’s Deepest Offshore Wind Farm Nearing Installation

At the Talisman Energy Inc.-operated Beatrice oil platform last week, work started on the installation of a 35 million GBP (USD$ 64 million) deepwater wind farm demonstrator project 25 kilometers off the east coast of Scotland. Attending were Andris Piebalgs, Energy Commissioner for the European Union, Deputy First Minister for Scotland Nicol Stephen and Jim Buckee of Talisman Energy Inc.

The project, a joint venture between Talisman Energy (UK) Limited and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), will use two of the largest turbines installed anywhere in the world to test the technical and economic feasibility of deepwater wind farms in water depths of about 45 meters. Electricity generated by the demonstrator project will be used to power the Beatrice platform. As part of Andris Piebalgs’ tour in a visit to Scotland to gain insight into the project and Scotland’s current energy scene, the Commissioner visited the Beatrice oil platform to view modifications being made to tie-in the cable linking the turbines to the platform and the “special bird radar system,” which is part of an environmental data gathering program. The tour included sight of an ERIC (Emergency Rapid Intervention Craft), which will be used to access the turbines to carry out inspection and maintenance. Installation of the first sub-structure jacket was also visible from the platform. Commissioner Piebalgs then visited the Nigg Fabrication Yard in Northern Scotland where he saw the wind turbine components, including one of the turbines assembled onto the installation system, as well as the turbine blades and ancillary equipment. “We are already well advanced in the process of fixing the substructure jackets to the sea bed and the next step is to complete the assembly of the turbines and fix these to the jackets,” said Jim Buckee, president and CEO of Talisman Energy. “This project is already utilizing many of the project management, engineering and fabrication skills and techniques developed in the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry. Such skills are transferable and underline the role the oil and gas sector is able to play in developing offshore wind. An important element of the project is that it will extend the life of the Beatrice platform and help maximize oil recovery from this field.” The European Community (EUR 6m), the Scottish Executive (Pounds Sterling 3m) and the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry (Pounds Sterling 3m) provided funding for the project with the remainder coming from Talisman, SSE and other partners. The first of the two 5-megawatt (MW) turbines, which are approximately 85 meters high, will sail out from Nigg in early August, dependent on weather conditions. The press release on the project did not identify what company is providing the wind turbines, but signs point to REpower, the only company with a commercial-scale 5 MW unit designed for offshore use. The turbines will be transported to the installation site by the Rambiz heavy lift crane barge, which has a lifting capacity of 3,300 tons. The existing Beatrice infrastructure has been modified to use the electricity generated by the demonstrator turbines. The field’s production platforms will also provide a base from which to carry out turbine monitoring and maintenance. The Demonstrator Project is a central part of DOWNVInD (Distant Offshore Wind Farms With No Visual Impact In Deepwater), which includes 18 different organizations from six European countries. “I am delighted to be able to be here today and see for myself the scale of these turbines and learn about the assembly and installation process,” said Commissioner Piebalgs. “DOWNVInD is our largest renewable energy research and development program and will help ensure that Europe is well positioned to take a global lead in developing deepwater offshore wind farms.”
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