Scottish windfarm set to provide world’s cheapest offshore wind power

A windfarm in Scotland is set to provide the cheapest electricity ever produced by an offshore wind farm by using two recently launched technologies, developer Mainstream Renewable Power said.

The 448MW Neart na Gaoithe windfarm – one of only two offshore wind farms awarded a Contract for Difference (CfD) by the Government in February – will be the first to install the new Offshore Transmission Module (OTM) by Siemens, and a ‘Boom Lock’ system from High Wind.

Cutting costs

The OTM will completely remove the need for large heavy offshore substation platforms and the associated specialist installation vessels, instead using two wind turbine foundations to support the OTM modules.

It will result in a 30% project saving by cutting installation and construction costs, while also decreasing operational costs, and provide a “significant contribution to the overall target of reducing the costs of offshore wind power,” Siemens Energy Management head of AC grid access solutions Mike Grainger said.

Meanwhile, High Wind’s Boom Lock system will allow the safe installation of all wind turbine components in winds of up to 15 meters per second, while drastically reducing installation time and improving safety. This will result in savings due to reduced cost for installation vessels, installation crews, as well as increased income due to earlier completion of the wind farm.

GeoSea general manager Bart De Poorter added: “Logically, wind farms are being built in areas where there is a lot of wind. That’s why it makes sense to use the right tools to maximise on the workability during periods of strong winds and, at the same time, maintain the highest level of safety.”

Neart na Gaoithe is expected to be fully operational and generating by 2020.

‘Halt the spread’

The UK is expected to drive the expansion of the EU offshore wind market, but developers have been called upon to bring prices down and make offshore wind price competitive with other sources of renewable energy, EY said last month.

The UK has developed the largest offshore wind market in the world under the coalition Government – 55% of installed capacity in Europe – but the Tories dealt a blow to the wind industry today in their election manifesto by promising to ‘halt the spread of onshore wind’.

The Conservative party said that while onshore wind has made a ‘meaningful contribution’ to the UK’s energy mix, it cited a lack of public support for onshore wind projects and their unreliability as the reason for the bold move.

Renewables trade body RenewableUK has hit back at the claims, saying the manifesto is an anti-green growth, anti-clean energy manifesto.”

RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: “The Conservatives’ manifesto spectacularly fails to recognise the high level of support among ordinary voters for onshore wind, which stays consistently at two-thirds of the British public.

“The Tories have also failed to acknowledge the significant contribution that onshore and offshore wind make to the UK’s electricity mix – currently around 10% of the UK’s entire energy needs, and growing rapidly year on year.”

Lucinda Dann

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