Scottish Power Renewables switch on £1.6bn Irish Sea windfarm eight weeks ahead of schedule


rUK Energy Minister Ed Davey announces opening of Irish Sea windfarm
rUK Energy Minister Ed Davey announces opening of Irish Sea windfarm

Scottish Power Renewables has confirmed that it has achieved full power output – more than two months ahead of schedule – at the West of Duddon Sands Offshore Windfarm, a £1.6 billion renewable energy project which it has developed with Denmark’s DONG Energy in the Irish Sea.

The 389 megawatt (MW) windfarm was officially opened by rUK Energy Secretary Ed Davey, accompanied by Ignacio Galan, Chairman of Scottish Power and Iberdrola, and by Samuel Leupold, DONG Energy Executive Vice-President Wind Power.

Located about 15 miles off the Cumbria coast, engineers installed and commissioned the 108 turbines and foundations in record time, using advanced construction techniques.

More than 1,000 people have been employed on the project, which has also seen more than 200 km of undersea cables installed. The total area covered by the windfarm is 67km², and each individual Siemens turbine has a capacity of 3.6MW. Now fully operational, the windfarm will generate enough electricity to meet the annual electricity demands of approximately 280,000 homes.

One of the biggest benefits to the project has been the new £50m offshore wind terminal at Belfast Harbour.  The terminal is the first purpose-built offshore wind installation and pre-assembly harbour in the UK and Ireland and supports up to 300 jobs, ranging from welders to electricians and engineers. The size and scale of the harbour has allowed for continual delivery of turbine components, and round-the-clock operations.

The project also benefitted from using two of the world’s largest and most advanced installation vessels, which allowed work to continue offshore during one of the worst winters for storm force winds in recent history. Working in tandem, the Pacific Orca and the Sea Installer vessels were used to install all of the foundations and the turbine components.

The Pacific Orca is the world’s largest windfarm installation vessel with a length of 161 metres, a breadth of 49 metres and a depth of 10.4 metres.

Samuel Leupold, for DONG Energy said:

The UK is an important market for our company and we have committed investments totalling more than £5 billion here over the last decade. We expect to invest a similar sum again by 2020, with another offshore wind farm under construction, and four more in planning or development.”

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