Round 3 of UK offshore wind development underway

Adam Westwood, David Hopwood

96 entities have set their sights on the UK's latest round of offshore wind project development.

The UK's Crown Estate recently issued an “Invitation to Negotiate” for registered developers to declare their interest in the UK's Round 3 programme. This “expression of interest” procedure closed at the start of September 2008, and saw an impressive 96 registrations.

How does the process work?

Potential developers that registered have been invited to bid for one or more of 9 development zones identified through the Marine Resource System by The Crown Estate. These zones will be finalised following the UK Government's decision on the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) being undertaken by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). Successful bidders will have exclusive rights to develop wind farms in specified Zones, in partnership with The Crown Estate.

It is expected that the indicative development zones highlighted will change in some cases to match the interests of developers. But the first operation of Round 3 projects is not expected until around 2017.

In other Round 3 news, the proposed Atlantic Array project has been bought by Npower Renewables from developer Farm Energy. A development company – Channel Energy Ltd – will take the 1.5 GW project forward, with Farm Energy employed for its management services.

Meanwhile, the first Round 2 project due to enter construction should be the Thanet project off the Kent coast. With financial close imminent, the project is expected to be sold to a new owner soon. With contracting almost complete, the project's timetable suggests the first foundation installation could begin at the end of this year – using the A2Sea vessel Sea Jack. The vessel is currently working on Horns Rev II off Denmark but should be on site for December. Vestas is supplying 100, 3 MW turbines to the project and these will be installed from spring 2009. Operation and maintenance will be performed from the port of Ramsgate nearby.

REpower UK has completed work at its newest wind farm in Dumfries and Galloway, with the official handover of Dalswinton Wind Farm to Airtricity, part of Scottish and Southern Energy. The news marks the official hand over of the operational wind farm, consisting of 15 turbines with 80m-high towers, each with a generating capacity of 2 MW of electricity. Dalswinton has a total capacity of 30 MW.

And off the coast of Belgium, the 30 MW-first phase of C-Power's Thorntonbank wind farm has been fully installed. The 6 turbine project marks the first commercial use of 5 MW wind turbines, using Repower Systems' 5M turbine (see image). The project will ultimately be expanded to 300 MW.

Project update – wave and tidal

Pelamis Wave Power's Aguçadoura wave farm off the coast of Portugal has been officially opened.

The multiple Pelamis units making up the Aguçadoura wave farm constitute both the world's first, multi-unit, wave farm – and also the first commercial order for wave energy converters. The project consists of three 0.75 MW Pelamis wave energy devices.

The project's launch comes after months of commissioning delays, most recently because of faulty buoyancy units in the devices. The devices are to be maintained and controlled from Pelamis Wave Power's office in Edinburgh, Scotland.

At the same time EDP and Efacec have announced their intention to join Babcock and Brown and Pelamis Wave Power in the next phase of the venture, which will extend the project with a further 25 machines. Development work for the second phase of the project is already under way. The Aguçadoura wave energy project in Portugal is supported by a specific feed-in-tariff, currently equivalent to approximately €0.23/kWh.

The next installation of Pelamis units is due at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) – off Scotland in 2009. The upgraded devices will still be rated at 750 kW but will be cheaper to produce, more efficient, have a better control system and be easier to transport, sources believe.

Tidal Generation Ltd's prototype turbine installation has been delayed. External factors such as component lead-times have been blamed for the delay, and the installation at EMEC is expected to take place in 2009.

The first full-scale installation of the WavePlane device will take place in October off the west coast of Denmark. The 200 kW device will initially be installed in around 12 m water depth, before ultimately being put in place at depths of 40 metres of water.

Another project beset by problems has been Verdant Power's renewable energy project based in New York's East River. As Elizabeth Block reports in her tidal article later in this issue (see page 58), the company is now making further strides.

Concerns about installation vessel availability are not a worry for OpenHydro, which has launched a custom made heavy lift barge. The organisation has invested €5m in the vessel's design and construction. The OpenHydro Installer allows a turbine and foundation base to be installed straight into location, in one day. This is the world's first vessel to be built specifically for deploying full scale tidal turbines, and the project has been supported by the Scottish Government through the Wave and Tidal Energy Support (WATES) scheme.

OpenHydro has recently begun manufacturing its next generation 1MW Open-Centre Turbine, which will be deployed in Nova Scotia and Alderney. The turbines are being constructed at the company's technical centre in Greenore, Co Louth, Ireland. OpenHydro has secured over €50m in funding since 2005 for the commercial development of its turbines.

Technology from Ideas Limited (TfI), an Irish seed investment and commercialisation company, has signed a joint development agreement (JDA) with DuPont – to develop jointly passive protection material technology for the wave energy sector. The agreement will also allow TfI to access and use DuPont's range of materials and apply them to wave energy devices for its WaveProtector customers.

TfI's passive protection technology is based on the application of tailored, non-linear materials to wave energy devices. The company says its system “lowers the forces to which existing devices are exposed to while maximising the energy capture”.

And finally, Bristol based tidal energy company Marine Current Turbines is celebrating being voted in the top 10 of Europe's top clean technology companies in The Guardian/Library House Clean Tech 100 Survey.

About the author
Adam Westwood is Renewable Energy Manager at Douglas-Westwood Ltd, which conducts market surveys, research, and analysis focused on the energy and marine industries.


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Energy infrastructure  •  Other marine energy and hydropower  •  Wave and tidal energy  •  Wind power