A photo of the Rampion offshore wind farm off Brighton, UK, in sunrise

RWE Applies for Rampion 2 Development Consent, Reduces Number of Offshore Wind Turbines

Last month, RWE and its project partners submitted an application for the development consent order (DCO) for the Rampion 2 offshore wind farm in the UK. The Planning Inspectorate accepted the application for examination on 7 September and will start the examination process within three months.

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The process at the Planning Inspectorate is expected to take six months and the final decision on whether consent will be granted, which will be made by the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero, is anticipated to be reached by early 2025.

If Rampion 2 is consented, construction could start in late 2026 or early 2027 and the offshore wind farm would then be fully operational before the end of the decade.

The proposed project is an extension to the existing 400 MW Rampion offshore wind farm located off the Sussex coast. Rampion 2, for which RWE signed a seabed lease agreement with The Crown Estate in 2021, is proposed to have a generation capacity of 1,200 MW which could power more than 1 million homes. This means Rampion and Rampion 2 combined would be able to power the equivalent of all of the homes in Sussex twice over, according to RWE.

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Rampion 2 is being developed by RWE on behalf of a joint venture company owned by the German developer, a Macquarie-led consortium, and a subsidiary of Enbridge.

Consultation on the offshore wind farm started in January 2021, followed by a nine-week statutory project-wide consultation launched in July 2021, which was then extended into 2022.

The site for an onshore substation at Oakendene, near Cowfold in Horsham District, was announced in July 2022.

After extensive feedback from local communities and interest groups, a further statutory onshore consultation was launched in October 2022 to explore potential cable route alternatives and modifications, which were driven by public feedback combined with ongoing engineering and environmental assessments, according to the developer.

The project will connect to the national electricity transmission network via underground cables from a landfall at Climping, West Sussex, to the existing National Grid electricity substation at Bolney in Mid-Sussex, via the new dedicated Rampion 2 ‘satellite’ substation at Oakendene.

“As part of our journey to date, we have carried out a huge programme of engagement and consultation over the past three years, and have subsequently made changes to the project proposals in response to feedback from statutory consultees and the Sussex community”, said Umair Patel, Project Lead, Rampion 2.

Rampion 2 Array Site Reduced by Nearly Half, Number of Turbines Cut by 26

Following statutory consultation, RWE made changes to the project plan, including a reduction in the size of the offshore wind turbine array by nearly half.

According to the documents submitted to the Planning Inspectorate, the array area with Rampion 2 offshore elements (foundations, wind turbines, offshore substations and inter-array cables) now spans 160 square kilometres and will be located adjacent to the south and west of the existing Rampion offshore wind farm site, between 13 and 25 kilometres offshore.

The maximum number of turbines was also reduced from 116 to 90, in response to feedback on visual effects and shipping from key stakeholders, including Natural England.

The turbines will have a maximum rotor diameter of 295 metres and a maximum height of 325 metres (tip height) above Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT), which is up to 2.3 times the turbine height at the existing Rampion offshore wind farm.

The size and capacity of the wind turbines will be determined post-consent, during the final project design stage prior to construction.

RWE Reduces Turbine Number for Two UK Extension Projects

RWE has also recently announced changes to another extension project in the UK, which the company is developing with SSE Renewables.

After reviewing the input received through statutory consultation for the North Falls project, a proposed extension to the existing 504 MW Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm, RWE and SSE decided to remove the northern array area and reduce the number and height of wind turbines.

The implementation of these and other changes to the North Falls plans will likely move the date for filing an application for the development consent order (DCO) for this project into 2024.

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In 2021, RWE and its project partners signed lease agreements with The Crown Estate to develop four extensions to the existing offshore wind farms around the UK.

Besides Rampion 2 and North Falls, the four projects include the Gwynt y Môr extension project, located off the coast of North Wales, called Awel y Môr, and the Galloper extension called Five Estuaries.

RWE submitted a DCO application for Awel y Môr last year and the decision on the development consent for the 350 MW offshore wind farm in Wales is expected to be made soon.

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