Generation begins at major wind farm projects

Paul Boughton

Eugene McCarthy reports on a number of major wind farms that are now producing electricity commercially, as other new projects are announced.

The first phase of the offshore wind farm being developed in the Irish Sea by Walney (UK) Offshore Windfarms, in which Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has a 25.1 per cent stake, is now operational. This means that 51 turbines, with a total installed capacity of 183.6MW, have successfully completed commissioning tests and are now available to generate electricity. As a result, SSE has added 46MW to its total electricity generation capacity.

Construction of the second and final phase of the wind farm, which also comprises 51 turbines with a total installed capacity of 183.6MW, is now well under way. The first turbine was installed in early June 2011 and a further 17 have since been installed. Phase two of the wind farm will be commissioned next year.

The wind farm as a whole is expected to have an average load factor of around 43 per cent and produce around 1300GWh of electricity in a typical year.

Under the UK government's Renewables Obligation Scheme, this output will qualify for two renewable obligation certificates (ROCs) per MWh. SSE will receive output in proportion to its equity stake. SSE's share of the construction cost of the whole wind farm is expected to be around £250m, excluding connection to the electricity grid.

Colin Hood, chief operating officer of SSE, said: "This is an important milestone in SSE's programme of investment in large capital projects and a significant addition to the company's asset base. With good progress also being made on phase two of Walney, I am confident that the wind farm as a whole will be commissioned, as planned, next year."

The company is also hoping two secure ROCs in respect of electricity output from its two principal onshore wind farm developments, Clyde and Griffin.

Turbines with a total capacity of 51MW have been energised at Clyde, which means that the first of the wind farm's three sections remains on course to be completed by the time of SSE's six-month financial results announcement in November. The remaining two sections are on course to be completed in 2012. In addition, turbines with a total capacity of 34MW have been energised at Griffin, which means that the entire wind farm (156MW in total) remains on course to be completed in the spring of 2012.

Also in the UK, Vattenfall has now completed the installation of the 30th and final turbine at its pioneering Ormonde wind farm off the coast of north-west England (Fig. 1).

Ormonde's 30 REpower 5M wind turbines have a total installed capacity of 150MW. It is capable of generating enough electricity annually to meet the equivalent electricity needs of 100,000 UK households.

Ole Bigum Nielsen, Vattenfall's head of offshore wind development in the UK, said: "Vattenfall has been pioneering the development of offshore wind for many years, with Ormonde hot on the heels of our recently completed Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, still the world's largest operating offshore wind farm. Our experience, coupled with the expertise from our construction partners, ode and REpower, has allowed us to develop a wind farm safely and to schedule."

Offshore construction of Ormonde started in 2010 and by the summer of that year all 31 steel lattice quadruped jacket foundations had been installed. The first wind turbine at Ormonde was lifted onto the foundation and installed on 23 March this year. All thirty wind turbines have been installed.

Vattenfall is a leading European energy company. It is Europe's sixth largest generator of electricity and largest producer of heat. Vattenfall currently operates 686MW of offshore and 526MW of onshore wind capacity around Europe.[Page Break]

Major supply contract

EDF Energies Nouvelles has awarded Vestas a major supply contract covering the US and Europe (Fig. 2).

The contract, which runs from 2012 to 2014, will see EDF order a minimum 50 per cent of its turbines from the US and 30 per cent from Europe.

Speaking about the deal, Vestas president Ditlev Engel said it was worth as much as 2GW to the company. He added that the two companies would also aim to develop new business opportunities in US, UK, Germany and Poland.

"It is an important chapter in the history of Vestas and wind power, when a major world-wide player like EDF EN signs up an agreement of this volume proving that today wind power is mainstream. This share of wallet agreement is expected to have a potential of up to 2000MW or more for Vestas," he said.

Meanwhile Vestas Wind Systems has received an order for delivery of a total capacity of 92MW for two wind projects to be installed in Burgos, in the north of Spain. The order consists of two turnkey projects including civil and electrical works, supply, installation and commissioning of two projects comprising the following: 20 units of the V90-2.0MW turbine with a 105 metre hub height for the Brulles wind power plant and 26 units of the V90-2.0MW turbine with a 105 metre hub height for the Zapateros wind power plant.

The company has also officially announced the establishment of its first assembly facility and a new operations cluster in Brazil, both to be located in a brand-new 10000m2 facility, including building and land, in Fortaleza in the State of Ceara.

The new assembly facility will be dedicated to assembly of nacelles. The assembly facility is expected to start operations in Q4 2011 to satisfy the needs of the project pipeline in Brazil. When fully operational, the facility will have an annual production capacity of approx 400 nacelles of the V90 and V100 turbine type representing an initially estimated annual capacity of 800MW.[Page Break]

In technology development news, Suzlon Group used the Wind Power 2011 conference in Chennai, India, to launch its S9X suite of wind turbines.

Chairman, founder and md Tulsi R Tant said: "The wind industry is rapidly evolving; the centre of gravity has shifted to emerging markets which are re-shaping the sector. This shift is also dictating the direction of technology development as more moderate and low wind sites become available in these new markets. The S9X suite of turbines has been developed to take advantage of these emerging opportunities. We are confident the S9X suite extends our competitive edge in emerging high-growth markets like India, China and Brazil and other select matured markets."

Speaking at the event, John O'Halloran, president - technology - Suzlon Energy, added: "Customer centricity is the hallmark of our new products. The S9X suite of turbines has been specifically designed keeping in mind the needs of the market. We have engaged closely with our customers in the development phase. We've incorporated their input at the design stage - delivering not only a better product, but also significantly improving project execution and servicing of the machines in the field."

He added: "Every aspect of the turbine - the blades, the generator and sub-systems - features improved designs to deliver a higher return on investment. The machines also have better grid compatibility and are in accordance with the highest safety standards. The end result is a range of products which are extremely reliable, delivering significant increase in energy yield at a low cost through its life cycle."

The S9X suite is an evolution of Suzlon's proven technology platform, and is built around a core doubly fed induction generator (DFIG)-based technology. A compact and modular DFIG design allows ease of serviceability and meets the latest grid requirements for smoother wind power plant connectivity. New blade designs with rotor diameters of 95 metres and 97metres offer a larger swept area add to this with greater energy capture and power production from moderate to low wind speeds.

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