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Wind Farm Turbines In
The Thames Estuary Off Our Coast


Many readers of information on this web site have asked for details of the work taking place on the Gunfleet Sands to set up a Wind Farm, generating electricity for the National Grid. Just before Christmas we put out a piece on this but mainly to draw seasonal attention to what we called the Christmas Tree lights on the construction barges and equipment moored in Point Clear Bay.



Three large pieces of equipment on barges moored in Point Clear Bay


The Gunfleet Sands construction was started on Friday 10th October 2008, with the installation of the offshore wind turbine foundations seven kilometres off the Coast at Clacton-on-Sea.
It is part of much larger wind turbine developments around the country. The project consists of two phases, Gunfleet Sands 1 with 30 turbines and Gunfleet Sands 2 with 18 turbines. The capacity of each turbine is 3.6MW, giving a total capacity of the Gunfleet Sands project of 172MW.
For anyone interested the rotor diameter of the turbines is 107m, with a maximum height of 129m from blade tip to sea level and in future will be a very visible sight from Clacton and Holland on sea promenades



Anna 4
(Crane Barge)



E 3801 Barge
(Anchor Handler for Svanen)



Sea Alfa
(Anchor Handler for Svanen)


Other interests are in the Thames Estuary or further up the coast. The developments we refer to in this article are either constructed, in the course of construction or planned awaiting the go ahead. There are currently five offshore wind farms in operation - Scroby Sands, Kentish Flats, North Hoyle, Barrow and Blyth. Another 10 have won approval and eight are at the planning stage.

One advantage of these developments is that because they are sited miles out to sea , wind farms do not have residents living within their vicinity who’s quality of life could be affected. They can also be built in such numbers to produce far more power than their more controversial land based turbines.


Offshore Progress
(Crew Transfer Vessel)


Smit Bison / Smit Barracuda (Support forAnna 4)


Cache Flow
(Marine Mammal Mitigation)


Approval has now been given by the Minister for the world's largest offshore wind farm off the coast of south-east England in a move that could eventually bring 341 turbines to the Thames estuary. This larger project covers 90 sq miles (232 sq km) between Margate in Kent and Clacton, Essex. The £1.5bn scheme, called London Array, could generate 1,000 megawatts of power, enough to meet about 1% of the UK's electricity needs.


Marineco Hathi
(Anchor Handler for Svanen)


Svanen (from Oct 7th 2008)


Forth Constructor
(Anchor Handler for Svanen)


The nine pictures above are taken from the report of Marine Coordinator DONG Energy. They show some of the craft used by the Company who are building the Gunfleet Sands Wind Farm.


A smaller £450m Thanet project will be located eleven Kilometres out from North Foreland, Kent, and will have 100 turbines.

In September the Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds signed a preliminary agreement to buy 140 3.6 megawatts wind turbines from Siemens for its wind farm off the east coast. They will be installed on a 500-megawatt wind farm around the Inner Gabbard and Galloper sandbanks 16 miles off the Suffolk coast in the outer Thames estuary.

The Company N-Power Renewables wants to build a giant 1,200MW offshore wind farm in the Greater Wash, referred to as the Triton Knoll, off the east coast of England. When completed, it would claim the London Array project's title of the world's biggest offshore wind farm.

About nine miles off the Norfolk coast at Sheringham Shoal is a joint venture between Evelop and Hydrowil known as Scira Offshore Energy Ltd. It will consist of 45 - 108 turbines. The turbines rated power will be between approximately 3.0 and 7.0 MW, with an estimated maximum power capacity of 315 MW, enough to power the equivalent of around 178,000 homes with clean, green electricity.

A proposed 500MW wind farm at Ducking Shoal with 72 - 166 turbines to be built by Centrica on a shallow sand bank, approximately 10 miles off the north Norfolk coast in the Greater Wash.

These offshore projects are not without their critics. The RSPB is supportive of renewable energy schemes, provided that impacts on the environment and wildlife are avoided, through appropriate siting, design, construction and operation. The RSPB Eastern England Region lodged objections to three large offshore wind farms in the Greater Wash and off the Suffolk coast. In all three instances, they objected to the way that cumulative impacts from these proposals on birds are assessed, as well as how in-combination impacts on bird species protected by nearby internationally designated areas are appraised.

In June 2008 the government opened a major new phase in its drive for renewable energy, calling for bids to build up to 25 gigawatts of offshore wind turbines, triple the amount already in the pipeline, by 2020. The announcement by the Crown Estate, which manages all property owned by the monarch including the seabed around Britain, was welcomed by British Wind Energy Association chairman Adam Bruce as being "impressively bold."

To the Web Editor it looks very much as though the march of the Wind Turbine at sea will continue

12/2/09


*****************************************************

This picture added 14th April 2009.

The vessel Titan 2 pictured on the left is used to actually place each turbine on top of the pylon built in its location on the Gunfleet Sands. The turbine unit is lifted first, (note the very large crane attached to the rig), and when the turbine is in place each of the three blades are hoisted into place and secured. This then is a completed wind turbine.




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