Peterhead harbour wins supply contract for European Offshore Wind Centre after developer trumps US president in turbine farm planning battle

Peterhead Port
Peterhead Port

Peterhead Port Authority is set to support the start of construction work for the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre after signing an agreement to harbour the suction-bucket platform foundations for the 11-turbine scheme.

The contract will see the port moor one of the world’s largest floating cranes (which has a maximum lifting capacity of 5,000 tonnes), and up to six barges that will transport the 11 foundations – the heaviest of which weighs around 1,800 tonnes and is about 77 metres high.

Peterhead port will also accommodate two supporting offshore construction vessels while a project site office will be established at the harbour for the installation operations, which are due to start later this year.

Vattenfall, the Swedish state utility, is developing the EOWDC off Aberdeen Bay – the one that hotel and golf-course developer Donald Trump tried to stop before he became US president.

The contract for Peterhead Port Authority was awarded by Boskalis which is Vattenfall’s prime supplier for the offshore construction and installation, including foundations and cabling.

Andre Andringa, project director at Boskalis, said: “Peterhead’s facilities provide a natural fit to support the foundation installation work for a number of reasons. With more than 3km of deep-water berthing, it can comfortably accommodate a large heavy lift vessel while the harbour is also sheltered, which helps minimise the impact of weather conditions for loading.”

Computer-generated sea-bed view of suction-bucket foundations and platform for offshore wind turbine.
Computer-generated sea-bed view of suction-bucket foundations and platform for offshore wind turbine.

The suction-bucket foundations will be transported to Peterhead for mooring via the six barge vessels, five of which will carry two foundations while the sixth will transport the final one. The installation vessel will be moored alongside the barges for heavy-lift operations. 

The EOWDC is believed to be the first UK offshore wind project to deploy suction-bucket foundations of this kind on a large scale. Through being paired with one of the world’s most powerful turbine models, they also represent an industry first.

A suction bucket like this will be used in the foundations of the Aberdeen Bay wind turbine parc
‘Suction buckets’ like this will form the foundations of the Aberdeen Bay wind turbine parc. By sucking the air and water out of the upturned ‘bucket’, it is driven (or ‘sucked’) under pressure deep into the sea-bed.

The buckets enable faster offshore installation while keeping noise to a minimum and allow easier decommissioning, when the installation process is reversed. As such, the technology will contribute to driving down the cost of clean power as offshore wind moves into deeper waters and more complex seabed conditions.

Ian Laidlaw, chief executive at Peterhead Port Authority, said: “The Port Authority is very pleased to be able to play a key role in the EOWDC project as it emphasises Peterhead’s experience and the range of services that the Port can offer. It also provides important opportunities for our established supply chain partners.

“Peterhead has been an integral part of the UK’s energy industry for the past 50 years and the EOWDC represents a new chapter in the vital role that the energy sector plays in support the national economy.”

Last year, Vattenfall invested in leases totalling 24 years with Aberdeen Harbour Board to establish a base at Regent Centre for its construction team and a warehouse unit at Commercial Quay which will support the lifetime operations of the project.

11 Aug 2017

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