WAY up, if not at the top of, the current European offshore windfarm league table is Swedish utility Vattenfall, which has just started work on its third UK project – Ormonde – a hybrid wind-gas project, with the current focus on the wind element.
The turbine array will be located just 10km (six miles) off Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
On completion, the windfarm will comprise 30 RePower 5MW wind turbines – the largest currently deployed – of which there are so far just two in UK waters.
This is sufficient to supply about 100,000 homes with clean electricity annually.
Vattenfall says that, over the next year, it will continue to look at opportunities to use local facilities and personnel.
During the operational phase, a number of long-term jobs will be created at the control, operations and maintenance base built within Barrow port.
The turbine heads are being manufactured in Germany, although the substructures, transition pieces and piles are being manufactured in Scotland by Burntisland Fabrications at Methil, Fife. Logistics and assembly services are being provided by Harland & Wolff in Northern Ireland.
According to Anders Dahl, head of Vattenfall Wind Power, the first foundation piles were installed early this month. The construction work is due for completion during 2011 and first power is expected later that year.
As for the gas side of Ormonde, that is still gestating. According to the environmental impact assessment report of 2005, exploitation of the gas reservoirs will be undertaken via two drilling centres – Ormonde South and Ormonde North. Both locations lie in about 20m of water and roughly 10km west of the nearest coastline at Walney Island, Barrow-in-Furness, and 10km north-west of Barrow Offshore Wind Farm, which is now operational.
The intention was to develop the two gas fields consecutively, the second being brought onstream once the first is depleted. Thus, drilling operations at the North location will take place about four years after those at Ormonde South.
Vattenfall is currently building two other UK windfarms: Thanet, off the northern coast of Kent, and the 13-turbine Edinbane onshore project at the north end of Skye.