The development of the UK’s largest offshore wind demonstration site – regarded as a pivotal strand in helping to lower the costs associated with Round 3 offshore wind farms – has received a boost with dual planning consents being given to the construction of the site and the onshore substation.
The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has granted permission to The National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) to construct the grid-connected 99.9MW demonstration project, comprising 15 turbines in three arrays in depths of 35m, 45m and 55m off the coast of Blyth in Northumberland including cables back to shore.
Northumberland County Council has also granted permission for the construction of the supporting onshore infrastructure including the electrical substation that will transfer the power created by the demonstration turbines to the grid.
The project is the first large-scale deep water demonstration site in the UK to be granted both offshore permits and onshore consent, and is seen as an essential facility for industry to be able to test next-generation offshore wind technology cost-effectively in realistic environmental conditions before commercial production.
For Narec, the £350 million demonstration site will be the final piece in the jigsaw as part of its strategy to provide a complete suite of independent open access test facilities, enabling manufacturers to reduce the risks and costs associated with developing the new technologies that will be needed in Round 3 projects.
Andrew Mill, Narec’s Chief Executive said: “We’re delighted to have reached such an important milestone and my thanks go to the project team including consultants Natural Power and Turner & Townsend in getting us to this stage.
“We’re now in talks with potential investment partners to build out the demonstration site. Construction of the first array is targeted to be completed in 2015.”
Shaun Nicholson, Head of Offshore Marine Licensing for the MMO, explained: “The Blyth project is the largest site we have approved for the testing of turbine devices.
“We aim to enable sustainable growth in making decisions about developments at sea. We consider economic benefits alongside any adverse impacts, such as on the environment and other users of the marine area. We have worked with Narec to ensure the development satisfied such conditions.”
The Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstration Site is consented for up to 15 turbines positioned in three arrays in depths of 35m, 45m and 55m. The site is one of four that were granted a lease by The Crown Estate in 2010. Since then, Narec has been working with the Marine Management Organisation to meet the rigorous approval criteria.
The site will be used by manufacturers and wind farm developers to learn new approaches across the supply chain including the study of alternative foundation types and construction methods for the development, deployment, operation and maintenance of new turbine technologies.