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Wind energy records blown away in Grimsby as Storm Emma matches Beast’s bite

Grimsby's offshore wind farms are producing well over 1GW of electricity in a town first, as the Beast from the East and Storm Emma at least brought some positives for the UK.

Wind energy records blown away in Grimsby as Storm Emma matches Beast’s bite

Farms have been operating at over 90 per cent output for the past 24 hours - double the yearly average - helping renewables ease critical pressures on gas.

A deficit warning had been issued yesterday morning (Thursday, March 1) as freezing temperatures showed no sign of lifting across Britain. 

Last summer the town surpassed 1GW of installed capacity controlled from the port, and with milestone-passing Race Bank now fully built out and operational, that figure is just shy of 1.5GW. 

The latest addition to Grimsby’s ‘hidden power stations,’ was producing a staggering 561 MW at 5pm today, a baptism of fire as it hit more than 97 per cent of its capacity.

Matthew Wright, managing director of Orsted, the company behind what is the town’s largest farm, said: “Such a huge amount of green energy being generated off the coast of Grimsby really underlines the potential for offshore wind to be the backbone of our electricity system in the UK. With significantly more wind power on the way too with our Hornsea projects, it’s a truly exciting time for the industry, and for Grimsby.”

The town’s first developments – identical farms Lynn and Inner Dowsing – were hitting 92 per cent, or 90MW of the 97MW capacity they both offer.  Near shore and a third the size of the current build outs, they average 30 per cent (29MW). 

Just behind them off the Skegness coastline, and Lincs was hitting 238MW of its 270MW capacity,  per cent compared to an average of 43.5 per cent). 

Westermost Rough, Orsted's first development, was hitting 203MW of its 210MW capacity, nearly 97 per cent. 

The first commercial scale use of a 6MW turbine, just off the East Yorkshire coast, doubled the size of those previously built out, and has enjoyed an average output of 49.8 per cent. 

Chris Holden, director of Grimsby Renewables Partnership, said: "For those of us working in the renewable sector its always a double edged sword when the weather turns bad. It usually means that the wind turbines we have watched been installed over the last few years will be operating at full capacity, while we struggle to cope.

"It seems such a short time ago, that we celebrated having the world's largest offshore wind farm in operation at Lynn and Inner Dowsing. Circa 180MW. Now we are talking about over 1,000 MW from the offshore wind farms serviced from Great Grimsby. I remember, discussing with a few folk just how big this industry would grow. They said at the time “it was just a flash in the pan”. Well I bet they are eating their words now.

"Anyone who has attended GRP events over the last few years should feel very proud to be involved in such a local success story."

All are operated and maintained from facilities on Grimsby’s North Wall and Royal Dock, providing more than 1.2GW of power. Nationally offshore wind contributed 6.35 GW, 12 per cent of national demand.

From just after 7am yesterday, onshore and offshore wind supplied more than 10GW of electricity for 20 solid hours, accounting for at least 22 per cent of the UK electricity demand, peaking at 37 per cent through the night and hitting 10,524GW at 3pm yesterday. It will have been welcomed by grid bosses as a deficit warning was issued over gas supplies as freezing conditions continued. It was withdrawn this morning.

There were no such issues with fossil fuels. With "true northern grit", as ABP described, employees at Grimsby, Immingham, Hull and Goole ports ensured that throughput remained steady and most importantly, safe.

The energy cargoes that are handled through Immingham alone, keep one in 10 of the UK’s lights on, underlining the importance of ABP Humber remaining dedicated to its company ethos of Keeping Britain Trading, in order to feed, warm and comfort the nation.

Across all four ports, senior leadership have seen 100 per cent of operational employees attending work, despite challenging weather conditions, which has left many regional schools and businesses closed.

Simon Bird, regional director for ABP Humber, said: “It is testament to the dedication and hard work of ABP staff that we have kept the Humber ports open for business during these very challenging weather conditions.”

All yard operations, including the movement of cargoes from quayside to warehouse, remain steady and ongoing with a keen cadre of workers, getting stuck in with their daily operations.

While haulage numbers have significantly dipped, due to the condition of local roads, each road on the port estate has been cleared, gritted and staff are eager to receive or discharge cargo, brought into the port by road.

Fertiliser destined for local farms continues to be bagged and front line staff work hard to ensure that hardy materials due to be collected for the construction trade are still being discharged from vessels, which have voyaged across from the continent in the bad weather.

Mr Bird added: "It is ABP’s dedicated workforce of both front line, operational and office based staff that are the forgotten heroes who, despite severe weather and snow storms across the east coast, continue to serve the nation."

Despite tough sea states and howling winds, construction of more offshore wind has continued. Yesterday saw the first transition piece installed at Hornsea Project One, which will see Grimsby reclaim the world's largest wind farm title for Orsted's 1.2GW project.

Transition pieces link the monopile foundations with the towers, incorporating key infrastructure to access and maintain the turbine. Each one weighs 400 tonnes. 

GRP chairman Andy Goudie added: "We have the power to make a difference, and quietly, turbine by turbine, we continue on the steps towards the largest offshore wind farms in the world. As we pass yet another milestone in generation, most of the development remains ahead of us."  

It wasn't all positive news though. Onshore cable issues linking Humber Gateway with the grid, have led to E.on’s facility being temporarily restricted to its average ouput of 45 per cent, with it contributing 100MW of its 219MW capacity, missing out significantly on generation opportunities.

Balfour Beatty controls the transmission assetsfor what is the closest wind farm to Grimsby, as part of strict rules governing ownership, the generator cannot retain it once operational.

A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said: "We are aware of a fault within one of the onshore cables which has reduced export capacity temporarily.

"Our team is currently investigating the location of the fault which is being hampered by the inclement weather including winds of over 60 miles per hour. We endeavour to repair the fault as quickly as possible to return capacity to the Humber Gateway offshore wind farm."

Due to the live statistical nature of this article it was updated on Friday, March 2 at 5.30pm and 11am, having been first filed at 3pm on Thursday, March 1.

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