Most notable in recent news was the official launch of Siemens Wind Power’s offshore wind turbine blade factory at Alexandra Docks, Hull, in December 2016. The 40,000 m² factory will make 75 m-long blades for its 7 and 8 MW class turbines. An associated harbour for pre-assembly and load-out of components is scheduled to start up this year, as are shipments to its first project, Race Bank off of Norfolk. Total project investment in the factory was said to be €400 million.

That facility is being developed in tandem with a second Siemens-owned factory in Cuxhaven, northern Germany, that later this year will start to produce nacelles for turbines in the 6-8 MW class. Michael Hannibal, CEO offshore of Siemens Wind Power, says: “Our new factory in Hull is located in one of the most significant markets for offshore wind power.”

UK wind power capacity in 2016 was roughly 13.65 GW (that includes more than 1,000 offshore turbines having 5.1 GW capacity in total), according to a Siemens Wind Power document.

Siemens adds that the UK offshore wind market has great potential for the future: 14.3 GW of offshore wind generation capacity is in construction or has planning approval.

In other news, Siemens has agreed to take the first 95 units manufactured by CS Wind’s wind turbine tower factory announced in December. Offering a potential capacity of 50 towers per year, the Campbeltown, Scotland, facility build project is being supported by a “multi-million pound” investment from Danish wind turbine utility DONG Energy that will provide it with preferred access to rights to towers manufactured there.

DONG Energy’s UK country chairman, Brent Cheshire, says: “Our investment means that we and other offshore wind developers will be able to source towers in the UK, which is fantastic news, not just for us but the whole UK offshore industry.”

The other UK supplier of wind turbine blades is MHI Vestas in Newport, Isle of Wight. It continues to chalk up orders for both the UK and elsewhere. In December, Belgium utility joint venture Norther NV (Eneco/Elicio) took a final investment decision on a project to install 44 MHI Vestas turbines (370 MW generation capacity in total) at a site near Zeebrugge, with the Isle of Wight facility involved here.

MHI Vestas also announced in December that construction of the first wind farm to employ its V164 8 MW turbine, DONG Energy’s Burbo Bank Extension project near Liverpool, was completed that month. The 32 turbines will have a generating capacity of 258 MW when completed early this year.

December also marked the 25th anniversary of the commissioning of the UK’s first 10 wind turbines, at Delabole, Cornwall, at a facility that has since been upgraded to more than double its original capacity. Trade association RenewableUK says that there are now more than 1,000 commercial-scale UK wind energy projects operating onshore and offshore.


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Industry-leading content levels

Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries has won a part in the production of wind turbine foundations (jackets and piles) for ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia ONE project. It is responsible for delivering 24 of the 60 three-legged jackets measuring 65 m tall and weighing 845 tonnes. They are being built for UAE-based steel fabricator Lamprell.

Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables, says: “East Anglia ONE will be the best value offshore wind farm ever constructed, at the same time as delivering industry-leading levels of UK content.”

The £2.5 billion offshore farm of 102 towers is expected to have a capacity of 714 MW when complete in 2020.

This article was published in the Energy Supplement included in the Machinery February 2017 issue.