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Iberdrola opens its first offshore wind farm

Pioneering technology for the $2.6 billion project in Irish Sea could help reduce costs of future offshore wind projects around the world.

Iberdrola USA, the second-largest wind producer in the United Sates, has announced that its sister company ScottishPower Renewables — in conjunction with Dong Energy of Denmark — and has opened Iberdrola's first offshore wind farm. The 389 MW facility is located in the Irish Sea (West of Duddon Sands), approximately 12.5 miles off the seaport of Barrow-in-Furness in North West England.

The joint owners officially commissioned the $2.6 billion project on Oct. 30 at a ceremony hosted by Ed Davey, the UK Secretary for Energy and Climate Change; Ignacio Galan, Iberdrola chairman; and Samuel Leupold, DONG Energy executive vice president for wind power. 

The 389 MW offshore wind project was completed more than two months ahead of schedule, thanks to several factors: a new $80 million, custom-designed offshore wind terminal built at Belfast Harbor. The terminal employs up to 300 workers and can operate around the clock for continual delivery of turbine and foundation components to the farm. In addition, two of the world's largest and most advanced installation vessels (Pacific Orca and Sea Installer) enabled construction crews to install all the foundations and turbine components during one of the most stormy winters in recent history.
"West of Duddon Sands is the first offshore wind farm in the U.K. to use such advanced construction methods," Galan explained. "The combination of two highly sophisticated installation vessels working in tandem, and the support of the excellent fabrication facilities at Belfast, Northern Ireland, made this one of the most efficient offshore projects ever delivered in the U.K."
More than 1,000 workers spent the last two years erecting the 108 Siemens turbines, connected through a 125-mile web of undersea cable in a 26-square-mile patch of the Irish Sea. Each turbine has a rating of 3.6MW, and the wind farm has enough total capacity to meet the annual electricity demands of approximately 280,000 homes.
Energy generated by the project connects to an offshore substation built by Iberdrola's engineering subsidiary, Iberdrola Engineering and Construction, and is designed to withstand the area's extreme weather conditions. The substation boosts the voltage then routes it through two export cables to the onshore substation at Heysham, where it enters the U.K. national grid.
Bob Kump, chief corporate officer of Iberdrola USA, said building the West of Duddon Sands wind farm was a significant engineering challenge. But he said the company plans to share the knowledge gained from the project to help advance the technology and cost competitiveness of future offshore wind projects.

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Energy infrastructure  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Wind power