Huge steel jacket foundations have been lined up at a fabrication yard in Belgium in readiness for the next phase of construction of the Beatrice offshore wind farm.
Installation of the structures is expected to start this summer after work got underway at the site of the £2.6billion development in the Outer Moray Forth in recent days.
Belgian engineering group Smulders was contracted by Subsea7-owned Seaway Heavy Lifting to build 28 jackets at its yard in the Hoboken district of Antwerp.
Fife-based BiFab was also awarded a contract to build 26 of the four-legged structures, using its facilities at Methil, Burntisland and Arnish in the Outer Hebrides. The remaining 30 jackets for the 84-turbine wind farm are being fabricated at Bladt Industries’ Lindo yard in Denmark.
According to developer SSE’s offshore construction timeline, the first jackets are due to be installed at the site, eight miles off the Caithness coast, between August and December. A second four-month installation phase is due to start next May.
Earlier this week SSE announced the successful installation of the first cluster of four foundation piles, marking the start of offshore construction work on the project.
The steel piles, manufactured by BiFab at Arnish, will provide foundations for two offshore transformer modules.
They were positioned using a specially-built 700tonne installation frame, carried to the site aboard Seaway Heavy Lifting’s Stanislav Yudin crane vessel and hammered into position.
The process will be repeated at each of the 84 turbine positions, with the work expected to be completed by around November. Installation of the the wind farm turbines is scheduled to start in July next year.
A spokeswoman for SSE yesterday said the company would “periodically provide updates” as the piling work continues.