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Orsted’s innovation outlined as world’s biggest wind farms emerge on our doorstep

Insight into innovation as offshore wind evolves has been given by the South Bank’s biggest inward investor in the sector, Orsted.

Orsted’s innovation outlined as world’s biggest wind farms emerge on our doorstep

Emma Toulson and Morten Holm addressed Offshore Wind Connections 2018, and revealed how special information days on the succession of world’s largest wind farms will be held in Grimsby this summer.

Miss Toulson, lead stakeholder advisor on the Humber, told how the Danish giant’s business model ensured efficiencies could be introduced quickly, working with top tier suppliers to always ensure future projects benefited from the last.

She said: “Our business model is to develop, build, operate and own wind farms. This business model allows us to design and optimise throughout the lifecycle of the project and build a better understanding across the entire value chain. It allows fast feedback and hones plans for projects going forward.”

Explaining how it was playing a part in driving down the cost of offshore wind, she said there were clear international benefits, now being realised in the US and Far East, where in the days after the event the company was awarded grid capacity for a 900MW development off Taiwan. 

“Only two years ago it was double the price to produce green energy," Miss Toulson continued. "It is a really good story, and bringing down the cost of energy opens up a global market. If it is not dependent on policy it becomes a cost issue – not a premium for green energy policy for a country – then with cost competitive it just makes sense to generate power from this lovely clean green resource.”

Turning attention back to this region, and Miss Toulson, who worked for North East Lincolnshire Council and the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership before joining the team at Royal Dock, said: “We firmly believe the Humber is a strategic location for many projects going forward. We work with Siemens Gamesa so we see it very much as a Humber supply chain.”

Every wind farm built out of Grimsby by Orsted, formerly known as Dong Energy, has used Siemens technology, with Race Bank the first to take Hull blades. Hornsea full follow.

Miss Toulson said: “We are really proud we have been able to source employment in Grimsby. We have around 250 employed directly now, employed in Orsted, in the East Coast Hub. What is great about it is that many of these, quite a high percentage, are from the local area, the North and South bank.”

She gave a nod to Lord Prescott, former Deputy Prime Minister, who had encouraged cohesion from industry and civic leaders to ensure the Humber continues to lead the way.

More apprentices will be recruited again this year, with the wider rolling out of the programme in other key Orsted locations.

“The future is Hornsea Project Two, with onshore enabling works underway,” she said. This will be slightly larger in capacity and size, with the turbines to be 8MW, so we are stepping up again.

“Hornsea Project Three is a project still in development, still at that stage, but it is something to keep monitoring as it is our future pipeline for this area. This one is 160km offshore, it is 2.4GW, it is a step even further, and no doubt will get even bigger turbines. The message is there is a lot happening, and a lot more to come.”

She welcomed colleague Mr Holm, head of operations at Hornsea Project One, to the stage, to update on the under construction project.

First monopiles entered the seabed in January. Next January the turbines will appear.

Mr Holm said: “Hornsea One is by far the most challenging project for us to do. It is 174 7MW turbines, 120km offshore, covering a massive area of approximately 407 sq km. Just to put that in to perspective, it is just short of 60,000 times the size of Grimsby Town’s football ground. It is a massive, massive challenge to us.”

Putting the size of the turbines into perspective too, he showed a diagram that sees the blade tip height well above the Humber Bridge towers, with the nacelle clearing the height of Grimsby’s Dock Tower. “That Dock Tower is outside my office window, and we are talking about being quite a bit bigger than that,” he said.

Touching on the work that has already been completed, he spoke about the onshore substation and the cable route, as well as the all-important transition from sub-sea to subterranean.

Mr Holm described Scunthorpe’s AMS No Dig as doing “absolutely sterling work” on the horizontal drilling requirements at the landfall at Horseshoe Point.

Turbines will start to be installed in January 2019, with installation and commissioning running to August.

“I remember laughing out loud when I heard the term 24/1 the first time, yet that’s now happening,” he said, referring to the one-a-day installation target for the topsides. “There are some amazing people in this industry, and that is why we are where we are.”

Operations and maintenance will take over in June 2019 “then we will be running it for the next 25 years,” he said.

“The whole maintenance organisation will be based offshore and that comes with a lot of challenges as well,” he said, giving a run down of the Edda Mistral, the SOV which will serve Hornsea.

“We are creating and developing the East Coast Hub, really clustering everything around Grimsby. We have a little satellite wind farm, Gunfleet Sands, which is also part of East Coast Hub, but the reason we are doing this is we are trying to take advantage of being close to each other. There is a clear opportunity to share assets, share facilities, share functions such as marine co-ordination. All of that stuff is expanding massively in the Port of Grimsby, a £10 million project around the East Coast Hub that should be finalised at the end of 2018. It is very interesting times indeed, and we can take decisions, chop and change as we go along.”

He told how much of Hornsea will be served by helicopter, with CHC contracted from Humberside, with innovation such as refuelling capability built in to the offshore substations.

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