DONG to Build U.K. Offshore Wind Hub
Denmark's DONG Energy said on Thursday it would build a multi-million pound maintenance hub in Grimsby, northeast England, to provide services for its offshore wind operations.
The new facility would, subject to planning approval, be built at the town's Royal Dock and provide maintenance support to the company's wind farms in the region.
The new hub will sit alongside the existing Westermost Rough operation and maintenance facility, using additional land to be leased from Associated British Ports.
Britain is the world leader for installed offshore wind capacity, according to data from the Global Wind Energy Council, with five gigawatts of capacity in 2015, around 40 percent of global total.
"It represents a massive vote of confidence to the U.K. offshore wind industry and confirms our commitment to the Humber region where by 2019 we expect to have invested around six billion pounds ($7.9 billion)," Brent Cheshire, DONG Energy's UK country chairman, said in a statement.
A spokesman for DONG said the facility would cost 10-20 million pounds and the company expects it to be fully operational by March 2018.
Grimsby, where many blame European Union fishing quotas for destroying jobs since the 1970s, was home to a fleet of 600 trawlers in its 1950s heyday but now there are hardly any and the town is struggling with poverty and unemployment.
Many British fishermen were vocal supporters of the successful campaign for Britain to vote to leave the E.U. in a referendum on June 23. The Brexit vote has raised concerns about foreign direct investment in the country.
DONG already has two operational wind farms on the east coast of England, Lincs and Westermost Rough, and two further projects, Race Bank and Hornsea One, under construction.
These wind farms combined are expected to provide electricity to around 1.5 million homes.
Offshore wind farms typically have annual maintenance checks, which are one of the largest running costs due to their location several kilometers out at sea.
The Grimsby site would house service operation vessels (SOVs), supplied by Norwegian shipping company Ostensjo Rederi and designed by Britain's Rolls-Royce, which will be capable of accommodating up to 60 crew and technicians and remaining at sea for long periods, DONG said.
The first vessel will arrive late next year to support a phased activation on the new hub. The vessel will initially support the operation and maintenance of Race Bank, DONG Energy’s 580-megawatt offshore wind farm currently under construction 17 miles off the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coastlines.
Once mobilized, the SOV will spend up to 28 consecutive days on station at the wind farm, where it will be able to service six to eight wind turbines each day. Crews of technicians from DONG Energy and turbine supplier Siemens will work on a two weeks on, two weeks off, shift pattern.
With the SOV in position, technicians will walk safely to work from the vessel’s open deck to work on the wind turbines using an innovative motion-compensated gangway. This gangway will remove the need for climbing up and down vertical access ladders as happens when traditional crew transfer vessels push on to the foundation of a turbine.
The bespoke SOV’s are expected to set the blueprint for the way in which offshore wind farms are maintained in future, offering significant safety and operational efficiency benefits. They will incorporate a containerized warehouse for the storage of equipment spares, tools and consumables.
Once operational the site is expected to create around 250 direct jobs.