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A pioneering project 15 years in the making

The much-celebrated inauguration of Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) was a day 15 years in the making for the energy industry. PES brings you a unique report on this exciting, innovative project, not least because of the enormous challenges which had to be overcome and the awareness, ethos and on-going research into the environmental effects.

Originally conceived by Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) back in 2003, the pioneering EOWDC is now generating clean energy off the coast of the Granite City. On September 7, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and Vattenfall’s CEO Magnus Hall inaugurated Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility. Over 100 business leaders and dignitaries attended the offshore celebration which gave them the opportunity to see the wind farm up close.

Through a series of innovations and cutting-edge technologies, the 11-turbine EOWDC will serve as a test and demonstration facility for offshore wind and lead the drive towards generating competitive wind power globally. In what was a major feat of engineering, all foundations and turbines were installed in the North Sea over a period of just nine weeks.

For the first time in the UK, steel suction bucket foundations were paired with the world’s most powerful turbines and deployed on a commercial scale. Each of the foundations weighs approx.1,800 tonnes and one was installed in a little over 2.5 hours in what is believed to be the world’s fastest wind turbine foundation installation.

The construction phase involved using one of the globe’s largest and most versatile floating cranes, the 25,000 tonne Asian Hercules III, to carry out the heavy work. The image of the crane off the North-east coast provided an insight in to the scale of the engineering and ambition of the project. Each of the 77m high suction buckets weigh the equivalent of almost ten Boeing 747s and were installed in a single offshore lift by the Asian Hercules III. The process was virtually noiseless and delivered numerous environmental benefits. It allows for faster and smarter installation; suction bucket jacket foundations provide a different option for foundations at challenging sites and decommissioning is easier as the installation process can be reversed.

The turbines at the EOWDC are the world’s most powerful deployed and a single rotation of the blades can power the average UK home for a day. Two of MHI Vestas’ V164 turbines have been enhanced to generate up to 8.8MW and the other nine turbines have a capacity of 8.4MW.

First power from the 93.2MW EOWDC was exported onshore via 66kV cabling on the first of July. The project is the first in Scotland to utilise these high voltage cables resulting in less inter-array cabling, less electrical loses and reduced construction costs. The clean electricity generated by the wind farm is exported to the onshore substation at Blackdog, Aberdeenshire. A 92-tonne transformer at the substation site converts the 66kV voltage to 132kV for transmission to SSE’s substation in Dyce for connection to the National Grid in Kintore.

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