UK\'s first offshore wind farm

Published December 10th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The search for clean and cheap energy leads often to a variety of surprising solutions, even though the use of wind energy is not new , this is the first offshore wind utilization unit in the U.K. it was officially opened by the Rt. Hon. Helen Liddell MP, Minister of State for Energy and European Competitiveness.  


The electricity generated by one of the turbines is sold under a Non Fossil Fuel Obligation contract, which is a special electricity contract for renewables generators.  


The electricity from the other turbine is sold in the UK, but the ‘environmental benefits’ are sold as “renewable energy certificates” to Nuon in the Netherlands.  


Nuon sells green electricity to customers in the Netherlands. This is one of the first international trades in renewable energy certificates. 


The two turbines, each of two Megawatt-capacity, are the first to be built in such a demanding position. One kilometer off the coast of Blyth, Northumberland, the turbines are subject to waves which can reach heights of 6.5 meters, wind speeds of up to 100 miles an hour and a tidal range of 4.5 meters in a water depth of 5.8 meters.  


Blyth Offshore Wind Limited, a consortium comprising AMEC Border Wind, Powergen Renewables, Nuon UK and Shell Renewables has built the £4-million Blyth Offshore Wind project.  


The two turbines were lifted into place, with blade tips 90 meters above sea level, in September and started generating electricity in mid November.  


The electricity is transferred via undersea cables to the national grid at Blyth and can produce enough power to supply the needs of 3,000 households.  


A recent consultation document published by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) states that the ‘practicable resource for UK offshore wind is 100 Terawatt hours per year’ – that is one third of the UK’s annual electricity consumption*.  


David Still, Chairman of Blyth Offshore Wind Ltd said: “We are delighted with the success of the project. It has clearly shown that the technology is robust and ideally suited to supply sustainable, green energy.  


It is an important step in the harnessing of offshore wind energy.” The Blyth Offshore Wind Farm will be the first offshore wind farm to be built in UK waters and will comprise two of the world's most powerful wind turbines. 


The Vestas V66 turbines, each of two Megawatt-capacity (enough in total to power 3,000 average households), will be the largest erected offshore in the world.  


The UK is one of the windiest countries in Europe and has enough offshore wind theoretically to supply three times the UK's current electricity requirements.  


UK companies have the potential to be fully involved in the manufacturing and installation of offshore wind farms.  


In a recent consultation document published by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), a potential for installing more than £6 billion of offshore wind farms around the UK was suggested.  


The project is being developed by Blyth Offshore Wind Limited, a consortium comprising Powergen Renewables, Shell, Nuon and AMEC Border Wind, and commenced construction in July 2000.  


Vestas, AMEC Marine, Seacore and Global Marine Systems are the main contractors on the project.  


AMEC, as well as supplying the foundation piles for the turbines, will perform the installation activities under the guidance of Vestas.  


Seacore will use their drilling expertise to provide suitable rock sockets for the foundations to be fixed into, and Global Marine will be providing the cable installation from the turbines to the shore.  


The two wind turbines will be erected one kilometer off the coast of Blyth, Northumberland, close to the existing Blyth Harbour wind farm in an average water depth of eight meters.  


First electricity is expected to be generated in August 2000. The £4 million project will receive financial support from the European Commission Thermie Programme.  


It will be monitored and evaluated as a part of the DTI's Wind Energy Programme, which aims to enable offshore wind power development and to support UK industry. 



Blyth was the site for the UK's first semi-offshore wind farm in 1992 - the Blyth Harbour wind farm. Nine 300kW machines were installed on the harbor wall for that project.  


Two years later the concept for the UK's first offshore wind farm was evolved by Border Wind.  


The following year Powergen Renewables joined up with Border Wind to make a successful application to the European Commission for support under the EC Thermie Programme.  


Discussions started with the Crown Estates and Government Departments - Department of Transport (now the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions), MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) - to formulate the regulatory permissions to enable the project to be built. 


In 1999, Shell Renewables and Nuon UK became involved in the project adding their expertise to the development process.  


The project required numerous consents to allow construction activities to commence. In order to ensure that there would be no detrimental effects to the environment, an Environmental Impact Assessment was prepared and submitted with consent applications.  


Numerous site surveys were carried to confirm the sea bed conditions.  


Boreholes were drilled at the proposed locations of both turbines. This confirmed that there were different ground conditions at each location, even though the turbines are only 200m apart.  


A 'Front End' engineering study was produced by the project partners to allow contractors to be supplied with base line data for their design work.  


The turbine manufacture then took responsibility for the design of the tower and foundation, again with input from project partners.  


The project had originally been awarded a NFFO-4 contract on the basis of two smaller machines. As a result of upgrading to 2MW machines, a second power purchase contract was required for the remainder of the increased generation. 



© 2000 Mena Report (

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