Offshore wind energy: Iberdrola wind farm in the UK with 108 wind turbines from Siemens

The 389-megawatt (MW) West of Duddon Sands offshore wind farm is the first such wind power commissioned by a Spanish company and will generate enough electricity to meet the annual demands of 280,000 homes.

Today, the UK Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, IBERDROLA Chairman, Ignacio Galan, and DONG Energy Executive Vice President, Samuel Leupold opened West of Duddon Sands (WoDS) offshore windfarm.

With an investment of €2 billion, this offshore wind facility developed by IBERDROLA, through its subsidiary ScottishPower Renewables, in a joint-venture with Dong Energy was commissioned more than two months ahead of schedule.

During the event, Ignacio Galán highlighted that this infrastructure “has been a significant engineering challenge, with many obstacles to overcome, but ultimately it has been a major success. It has tested the UK’s ability to deliver major renewable energy projects, in terms of workforce skills, supply chain depth, facilities and logistics.”

Also, the Chairman of IBERDROLA thanked “all of the 1,000 people who have worked so hard to deliver the project, from electrical engineers to construction technicians to marine biologists. Delivering all of the different elements effectively on a project as large as this is the biggest challenge, and we were extremely pleased with the team work and co-ordination which allowed us to complete this windfarm ahead of schedule.”

Finally, Ignacio Galán said: “West of Duddon Sands is the first offshore windfarm in the UK to use such highly advanced construction methods. Working in tandem with two highly sophisticated installation vessels, all supported by the excellent facilities at Belfast, has seen one of the most efficient offshore projects ever delivered in the UK.  In the past, the type of storm force winds that we experienced off the west coast of the UK last winter would have resulted in months of delays and cancelled operations”.

Located approximately 20km off the Barrow-in-Furness coastline in North West England, the windfarm covers a total area of 67km2, has 108 Siemens turbines with 3.6MW unit capacity and has also seen more than 200 km of undersea cables installed.

Electricity for 280,000 British homes  

IBERDROLA’s first offshore windfarm will generate enough power to meet the annual electricity demands of approximately 280,000 British homes.

West of Duddon Sands has led the renewable energy industry in efforts to reduce the cost of offshore wind. One of the biggest benefits to the project has been the new £50m offshore wind terminal at Belfast Harbour.  The terminal is the first purpose-built offshore wind installation and pre-assembly harbour in the UK and Ireland and supports up to 300 jobs, ranging from welders to electricians and engineers. The size and scale of the harbour has allowed for continual delivery of turbine components, and round-the-clock operations.

The project also benefitted from using two of the world’s largest and most advanced installation vessels (Pacific Orca and Sea Installer), which allowed work to continue offshore during one of the worst winters for storm force winds in recent history. Working in tandem, the vessels were used to install all of the foundations and the turbine components.

The electricity generated initially connects in to an offshore substation specially designed by IBERDROLA’s engineering subsidiary to withstand the area’s extreme weather conditions. The voltage from the turbines is increased and two export cables then take the electricity ashore to the onshore substation at Heysham, where the windfarm is connected to the UK national grid.

The Operations and Maintenance base for the windfarm is a newly constructed facility in Barrow-in-Furness, which will support more than 40 highly-skilled jobs for at least the next 20 years.