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Kentish Flats Extension wind farm – RICS Awards 2016

Kentish Flats

The 90MW Kentish Flats wind farm owned and operated by Vattenfall, is located off the coast of Kent, UK, about 8.6km north of Herne Bay and 9.5km north of Whitstable. The installed capacity of the offshore wind farm has now been extended by another 49.5MW. Admirably, the project was shortlisted for the RICS Awards 2016, in the infrastructure category.

Vattenfall is a Swedish, state owned utility, predominantly investing in the UK in wind energy, both onshore and offshore. Originally, Vattenfall was a Swedish hydroelectric company that now operates most forms of energy and generation. The company’s main markets are Holland, Germany and Scandinavia.

Premier Construction spoke to Matthew Green, Project Director at Vattenfall, who commented:

“The existing Kentish Flats offshore wind farm commenced operations in 2005, and in 2010 the Crown Estate offered to allow an extension to the existing offshore wind farm.

“In 2013 this was formalised and the site was awarded planning permission from the government. Offshore construction commenced in April 2015, with energisation of the assets in August 2015 and fully operational just a few weeks later in September.

“Internally a big milestone for us was handing the project over to our to our operational team and that was scheduled to happen in January 2016 – however we did this in November 2015 so it was two months ahead of schedule – which was quite an achievement!”

“Offshore wind power is growing all around the world and in the UK especially; the original Kentish Flats wind farm was one of the first in the UK and it made use of quite large offshore turbines but they were first generation. This time we wanted to increase the site capacity, it’s a good site with great wind conditions and it is fairly close to the shore, therefore it was the ideal project to extend – but ten years later we wanted to be able to show some kind of progression in terms of lowering the cost of the energy that it produces, by maximising the yield.”

Originally, Kentish Flats offshore wind farm comprised 30 turbines installed at a water depth of 5m. However the extension project has added a further 15 turbines – so half as many – but fascinatingly the annual generation yield is almost the same. This means that Vattenfall has almost doubled the capacity, and there is no real visual impact difference between the original turbines and the new ones – it is purely down to the fact the turbines are now much more efficient than they were previously.

Matthew added:

“It was a similar budget to the last development, which proves the difference ten years can make in terms of the same production, representing quite a reduction in cost of the power produced.

“Delivering on time and on budget was my personal goal and that was achieved. Another important thing was health and safety, and there was a good health and safety record exhibited during the construction phase.

“The construction timescales were quite tight so we had to build everything in just a few months and we always had to consider weather and other issues. We carried out mitigating measures such as undoing cables in advance and ensuring the installation methodologies were robust enough to install the foundations and turbines as fast as the others – it was all a huge learning curve really.”

Onshore civil contractor J Murphy & Sons Ltd, and main turbine supplier contractor MHI Ltd (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries), were the main contractors involved in the project.

Commenting on the shortlist for the RICS Awards, Matthew said:

“It’s very good; it’s an important organisation to be recognised by, so it’s quite an honour to be nominated.”

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