Power is now being generated from the final phase of Walney Extension which will become the world’s largest offshore wind farm on completion later this year, Ørsted, the developer of the wind farm, said.
Walney Extension, off the coast of Cumbria, is being constructed in two phases using turbine technology from two different manufacturers – MHI Vestas and Siemens Gamesa.
The first three of 47 Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines have now been installed in the second and final phase of construction. This will be the first time the 7MW Siemens Gamesa turbines have been used commercially anywhere in the world, Ørsted said.
Clark MacFarlane, UK & Ireland Managing Director at Siemens Gamesa, said: “Siemens Gamesa is delighted to see this exciting and world-leading project nearing completion. For Siemens Gamesa, it is world-leading also as it is the first installation of our 7MW turbines. In less than a year, we shall see a further half million UK homes benefitting from clean, green energy for years to come.”
MHI Vestas has already installed the first phase with 40 of its 8MW turbines and commissioning is now nearing completion.
The wind farm, which is a shared-ownership project between Ørsted (50%) and two Danish pension funds PFA (25%) and PKA (25%), is due for completion in the second half of 2018.
Andrew Cotterell, Walney Extension Programme Director at Ørsted, said: “We are very pleased with the progress we are making on the project and remain on schedule, despite some quite challenging weather conditions. In general, both offshore and onshore works are well advanced and our focus is set on completion in the second half of 2018.”
Once fully complete, the 659MW Walney Extension project will leapfrog London Array to become the world’s largest operational wind farm.
Construction of the project is being co-ordinated from a base at the Port of Barrow, which already hosts the operating and maintenance teams for three other Ørsted offshore wind farms, Barrow, Walney and West of Duddon Sands.
As part of Ørsted’s commitment to the region, a GBP 15 million Walney Extension community fund has been set up to support local projects and organisations. Each year, around GBP 600,000 will be made available for the expected 25-year lifetime of the wind farm, with GBP 100,000 of this ring-fenced for a ‘Skills Fund’ to promote education and support local students.