Hunterston Is No More

SSE Renewables has decommissioned the last remaining test turbine at the Hunterston National Offshore Turbine Test Facility in North Ayrshire, Scotland.

Following six years of testing, the 6MW Siemens turbine was brought down to the ground in an operation by lead decommissioning contactors, Keltbray, and under the supervision of SSE Renewables. The operation involved a controlled felling using explosive charges.

The 6MW Siemens turbine prior to the felling. Source: SSE

The Hunterston National Offshore Turbine Test Facility has been instrumental over the past six years in providing key data and testing technology which enabled the deployment of 84 turbines at Beatrice offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth, SSE said.

At 588MW and built in depths of up to 60m in the North Sea, 13kilometres off the coast of Caithness, Beatrice is Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm, and the fourth largest in the world. Beatrice was officially opened in July by HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.

“While it is always with a twinge of sadness that we see a piece of engineering such as Hunterston decommissioned, we can also look forward with optimism to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for the renewables sector in Scotland,” Jeremy Williamson, Director of Operations for SSE Renewables, said.

“In the last week, SSE Renewables has secured a UK Government contract that will enable it to develop our Seagreen offshore wind farm project in the Firth of Forth. At 1,075MW it will, when it is completed, become Scotland’s largest wind farm. And like Hunterston, it will also afford new opportunities for innovation and learning, and further help to reinforce Scotland’s and Britain’s leadership role in the global offshore wind sector.”

Over the coming weeks the turbine will be dismantled and removed from site as part of ongoing works to decommission the overall facility and, where possible, components will be processed for re-use.

Ross Cowie, Hunterston Project Manager at SSE Renewables, said: “Our original intention was to dismantle the components of the turbine by crane. However, a suitable method of doing so safely could not be established. As a result, it was agreed by all parties involved in the project that the safest method possible for decommissioning the unit in the timeframe required under planning conditions was to utilise a controlled felling.”

Consented in February 2012, the Hunterston Offshore Wind Turbine Test facility is the UK’s first onshore test site for offshore wind turbines. Apart from the 6MW Siemens turbine, the site was home to a Mitsubishi 7MW Sea Angel offshore turbine which was decommissioned last year.

Photo: SSE