UK: Iberdrola Focuses on Offshore Wind Future
Iberdrola is committed to promoting offshore wind power as one of the basic pillars in its future growth. It is determined to spearhead the development of this technology, which it considers to be the second revolution in renewable energies, just as it did in the case of onshore wind power, where it is the world leader, with an installed capacity of over 14,000 megawatts (MW) across 14 countries worldwide.
In order to pursue this goal, Iberdrola set up an Offshore Business Division, which has its headquarters in Scotland, to promote the gradual commissioning of the offshore wind power installations in its project pipeline, the capacity of which already amounts to over 11,000 MW worldwide.
These projects are based in Europe, particularly in the northern region; with the United Kingdom, France and Germany as the main countries involved. It is the most ambitious challenge ever undertaken by a company in the renewables sector and some 40,000 jobs are expected to be created. It will therefore give a significant boost to the economy in the areas where the facilities are built and help to revive sectors such as shipbuilding.
The first of these projects to be commissioned will be West of Duddon Sands, which Iberdrola is building in the United Kingdom in a partnership with the Danish company DONG Energy. This installation will require around 500 workers for the construction stage and have a capacity of 389 MW, enough to meet the electricity consumption needs of 300,000 British homes. It will therefore be one of the largest wind farms of its kind in the world when it starts to operate, which is expected to be in 2013.
Iberdrola and DONG Energy have already completed the development stage of the entire project and allocated the contract to supply the wind turbines to Siemens. They have also ordered two state-of-the-art ships from two leading Danish naval companies specialising in offshore wind power, for the construction of the site. These two ships will transport and install all of the elements of this wind power infrastructure from the port to the open sea.
They are two of the most modern models of ships available on the market and were designed specifically for the installation of offshore wind farms. They will enable the work to continue all year round, even in extreme weather conditions. These two vessels are now under construction and are expected to be available by the end of the year.
It has been decided that the wind farm will be installed from the port of Belfast (Northern Ireland) as the base. In this regard, the most important extension in the history of this port will be undertaken: a record investment of €60 million to build a new 200,000 m2 terminal where all of the elements in this offshore installation will be assembled.
As regards Iberdrola’s long-term offshore projects, the most important is the East Anglia Array, which it will be building in English waters along with the Swedish company Vattenfall. It will be one of the biggest offshore wind farm complexes in the world, with an installed capacity of 7,200 MW. This facility, for which the first permits may be obtained this year and on which construction is due to commence in 2015, will have an installed capacity to supply electricity to some five million homes.
Iberdrola’s next major offshore project is Wikinger, a wind farm located in German waters in the Baltic Sea and the most important offshore wind power project to be developed at significant depth (over 40 metres under the sea). This facility will have an installed capacity of 400 MW and wind turbines with a unit power of around 5 MW each.
Iberdrola expects to submit the final plans for this offshore project in early 2014, with a view to commencing construction in the year 2015 and starting to export the first kilowatts to the grid in 2016. Wikinger is located in the northern part of an area known as Westlich Adlergrund, which the Germany authorities have designated as a Priority Offshore Development Area, around 40 km from the nearest coast, Rügen Island.
The company is also developing the Argyll Array wind farm in the United Kingdom, a facility with a potential capacity ranging between 500 MW and 1,800 MW.
Finally, the consortium formed by Iberdrola and the French firm Eole-Res has been granted exclusive rights by the French government for the construction and operation of the offshore wind farm of Saint-Brieuc, which will have a capacity of 500 MW. The Saint-Brieuc wind farm will consist of 100 wind turbines with a unit capacity of 5 MW each. It will be located opposite Saint-Brieuc Bay, in the French department of Côtes d’Armor, about 20 kilometres offshore.
To carry out this project, the consortium set up the company Alas Marinas and hired a number of leading French companies in offshore power. Commissioning this facility will give a significant boost to job creation along the coast of Bretagne, with an average of 2,000 jobs being created in the coming years.
Offshore WIND staff, May 24, 2012; Image: Iberdrola