SeaRoc Successfully Install Anemometry Platform For Narec Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstration Project

The National Renewable Energy Centre

By Steve Abbott | Nov 14, 2012

Platform in 37m deep waters to validate wind conditions for the largest independent offshore wind demonstration site proposed in the UK

The National Renewable Energy Centre, Narec, has completed the installation of an offshore research and anemometry platform, three nautical miles off the coast of Blyth, Northumberland, next to the nearest shore array of the proposed 100MW capacity Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstration Site.   

The platform is fitted with the latest technologies for measuring wind resource, observing marine conditions and collecting marine life data.  At a height of 103m above sea level, its meteorological mast is amongst the tallest planned for offshore wind in the UK and the data collected will validate conditions on the proposed demonstration site for next generation turbines up to 8MW. 

Andrew Mill, Chief Executive at Narec, said: “The installation represents a significant step forward in the realisation of the demonstration project, which has been designed to enable the commercialisation of the next generation of offshore wind turbines and their associated structures and electrical network equipment.  This is the right time for manufacturers to provide assurance to investors in the sector by building up operating hours on their new designs in a realistic offshore environment.”

The platform has been designed for a 22-year life and its installation on a tripod structure at 37m water depth follows the approach being taken for the installation of wind turbines in deep waters. As well as providing a benchmark for tenants to monitor the performance of turbines on the Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstration Site, it provides an open-access research facility to trial new technologies and processes to reduce the timescales and costs of consenting offshore wind.

Andrew adds: “To reduce the future costs of up-scaling offshore wind requires innovation through the whole process of design, manufacture, installation and operation of wind farms, particularly as we go into deeper water farther out at sea.  Our North Sea demonstration site provides a microcosm of the environment in which the majority of UK Round 3 Sites will be built out in.  We are providing a shop window in water depths ranging between 35m and 58m for tenants to prove the performance and durability of larger prototypes and early-series production models.”

Tony Quinn, Operations Director at Narec, said: “The successful delivery and installation of the platform has required a concerted effort from all parties across the supply chain, including client team, stakeholders, professional advisors and contractors.  Whilst this has necessitated a degree of commitment and dedication over and above the norm, it illustrates what can be achieved when a common aim is shared.”

The contract for the complete installation works was awarded to SeaRoc earlier this year and included transport of the foundation to the quayside, full load-out and offshore installation of the foundation, three pin piles, grouting and full topside.  The structure’s 53m-high tripod foundation, weighing 535 tonnes, 60-tonne platform and a 25-tonne meteorological mast were assembled offshore after being collected from the manufacturers on the River Tyne. 

Toby Mead, Operations Director at SeaRoc, said: “I am very proud of my team – we developed a solution focused on risk mitigation and the installation was successfully completed to a compressed schedule, with zero incidents and accidents.   The importance of getting the installation correct for the platform to be operational by the end of November 2012 was the key driver for SeaRoc.  This has been a challenging project and it has allowed us to grow our construction business further with a focus on niche installations that require a range of disciplines and offshore project management experiences.”

Turner & Townsend is delivering project, programme and cost services for Narec's overall capital build programme.  John Laverick, Project Director at Turner & Townsend, said:  “Our great challenge with this project was to bring together different sector disciplines and expertise in both onshore and offshore aspects, from design and on-shore fabrication to working with specialists, including SeaRoc and MPI, to complete the installation.  It is very satisfying to finally see the platform installed and I would like to thank all those who have contributed to achieving this feat.”

Narec submitted an application to the Marine Management Organisation in March 2012 for consent of the proposed 100MW capacity Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstration Site and a decision is expected within 12 months.  A competitive tendering process is also underway to select tenants to demonstrate turbines up to 195m blade tip height on the three proposed arrays.  The private sector investment required to build out the site, if consented, will be circa £0.4 billion and the project aims to have the first turbines in operation in 2014.