Lying to the east of the Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farms, five miles off the Skegness coast, construction of the 270MW Lincs offshore wind farm is progressing well.
When fully operational later this year the 75-turbine wind farm will be capable of supplying enough energy to meet the annual power needs of more than 200,000 homes over the next 20 years.
A key milestone in the development was reached last year when the construction of a 3,000 tonne offshore substation, the first of its type in the UK, was completed. The substation transforms power from the wind farm from 33kV to 132kV prior to transmission to shore – the substation was built by McNulty, a subcontractor to Siemens Transmission and Distribution Limited, based in South Shields.
Installation of the monopile foundations and the distinctive yellow transition pieces that sit over them was completed in July last year. The first of the Siemens 3.6MW wind turbine generators, LS12, was installed on July 14th.
The onshore substation at Walpole, around 12km from the Wash coastline and east of the River Nene, was also completed, tested and energised last year. This substation will boost the power from 132kV to 400kV before it enters the national electricity network.
Last year, two cables were laid more than 40 kilometres from the wind farm, almost to shore, by the vessel Discoverer. Two shorter nearshore cables have been laid to complete the link between the wind farm and the onshore electrical network.
Laying of the most sensitive inshore sections in the intertidal area and across protected saltmarsh required careful management and close liaison with several stakeholder groups and environmental bodies.
Work in the intertidal area had to take place during a window agreed with environmental advisers Natural England to avoid disturbance to overwintering birds.
To minimise the environmental impact, the team used specialist contractors and trenching technology to undertake the work during the summer of 2011 and again last year.
The project is a joint venture between Centrica Energy, DONG Energy and Siemens Project Ventures.
What is the benefit of wind?
Offshore wind farms harness the natural power of the wind for our electricity needs. It is energy that Britain’s coastline has in abundance. Generating more of our power from non-polluting, renewable sources will help protect us from the impact of climate change.
It will also preserve precious natural resources and make us less reliant in future on imported energy. Wind power is currently the most economic and proven of all the renewable energy technologies, and the development of offshore wind farms will allow us to use larger, more efficient turbines to capture the more consistent wind resource out at sea.
Centrica’s investment in renewable energy reflects this wider change in thought, as new forms of generation are sought to reduce carbon emissions and improve security of supply as Britain becomes increasingly dependent on imported gas.
Far-reaching targets set by the UK Government and EU will mean that increasing amounts of power will be required from renewable sources over the next decade and beyond.
The EU has set legally binding targets on member states such as Britain to reduce carbon emissions and, under the UK Government’s Renewable Energy Strategy, it is currently intended that around 30% of electricity will be required from wind, marine and other renewable sources by 2020.
The UK Government’s longer term goal is for carbon emissions to be reduced by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The Government’s strategy anticipates that offshore wind is capable of contributing a total of25GW of power by 2020 and 33GW by 2030.
Since announcing its intention to invest in wind generation as part of a balanced energy supply portfolio in 2003, Centrica has become established as a world-leading player in offshore wind development with a healthy portfolio of operational assets and projects in construction and development.
It has also developed important joint ventures with other leaders in the field and with investors. Centrica has joint venture interests in three operational offshore wind farms in UK waters – Barrow Offshore Wind Farm in the East Irish Sea, and the Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farms, also located off the Lincolnshire coast.
Founded in 2003, CT Offshore provides a full range of offshore services from cable installation, post lay burial, survey consulting to monitoring and maintenance.
The company owns and operates a specialized fleet of four vessels with highly sophisticated equipment that is constantly expanded, developed and adjusted according to the current projects and demand in the market.
Working on open sea under all types of weather conditions requires the right equipment, the firm therefore design and develop more than 80% of installation equipment in-house.
In addition to the installation, CT Offshore also go above and beyond with the consulting service they provide after each project- ensuring safety and stability are maintained throughout the cable lifecycle.
Most recently CT Offshore, along with three other contractors, was tasked with the cable installation on the Lincs Offshore Windfarm. The company were selected due to their technological precision, professional approach and their team of very skilled and experienced cable engineers.
Speaking about the development, Project Manager Rune Kaltoft said: “There were challenges with the project, mainly due to the geology of the seabed. However our experience and adaptability enabled us to successfully complete the installation of the cables last summer.”