A busy time in the air and under the ground

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 17 Aug 2016

FINAL plans are being made for the laying of 350,000m of cabling along a 38km route around North East Lincolnshire to 'plug in' Hornsea Offshore Wind Farm.

The onshore route has been mapped out for some time, but with contractor now appointed in J Murphy & Sons Ltd, next month sees the start of the works, a key element in the project timeline.

It provides part of the 'hidden link' from the £25 million North Killingholme sub-station, where work began in January, to the sea wall, where Scunthorpe's AMS No-Dig will ensure safe passage to the offshore cabling.

That then leads out to the first phase project, 120km off the Yorkshire coast, where the array will cover an area of approximately 407 sq km.

Once completed it will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

Processes currently ongoing for the first Round Three project to grace the area includes refining the construction process and finalising formal consents with the local planning authorities and other statutory bodies.

Areas of focus for the team include sensitivity to local ecology and archaeology, ensuring access to public rights of way are managed and practical details such as traffic management, equipment storage and the location of welfare facilities for the contractors.

The cable crosses farmland, roads, rail crossings, canal, river crossings and ditches, overhead and underground services. These will be crossed using either the trenching method or horizontal directional drilling. That method will be used at approximately 50 points along the route to minimise disruption to the local communities and to keep the local infrastructure running as normal.

Duncan Clark (pictured left), programme director for Hornsea Project One at Dong Energy, said: "Hornsea Project One is a huge infrastructure project that will be able to generate clean, green electricity for well over one million UK homes for decades to come. The onshore cable will run underground along its entire route and installation is a vital part of the construction process. We are very pleased to be working with Murphy on this.

"Dong Energy is committed to using UK suppliers whenever possible, and Murphy has an excellent track record of working with us to safely construct offshore wind farms."

At North Killingholme, where Balfour Beatty is on site with the sub-station link to the National Grid, first steps to prepare the site for the main phase of construction are almost complete.

Mayor earthworks and excavation to form the site footprint, the removal of surplus soil and the addition of two layers of drainage have been the focus. The construction of a 3m high precast concrete retaining wall to the eastern boundary of the site is also complete.

MORE: World's largest offshore wind farm planned off the Humber given Government go-ahead

Innovation in operations and maintenance

WHILE Hornsea presses on, Dong Energy’s Westermost Rough has completed a first year since being handed over as an operational wind farm.

Rob Sampson now leads on the 210MW project, an innovator on several levels.

He addressed Grimsby Renewables Partnership’s annual conference held this past month. “Westermost Rough is the first wind farm in the world to have a 6MW turbine and the first wind farm in he UK to have a helicopter. Dong Energy is delivering on innovation,” he said. 

“From an operations and maintenance perspective everyone delivering for Westermost Rough is from the Grimsby or Hull  area. Not only are we delivering innovation, but we are delivering with local people. “We are the first in the UK to use a helicopter, and we have completed 1,100 hoists in a first year, with 350 flying hours. We have used it a lot since the beginning of June 2015.”

He told how initially the technicians were apprehensive, but after doing a lot of work on site, now love it.

It is understandable, while they have to climb 10 to 20m, and work in confined spaces within large portions of the world-leading 177m high structures, it is a different proposition being winched down from getting on for 200m above. And while the platforms they are hitting are getting bigger, to the unitiated it looks like a daunting process, as a video shown to the room underlined.

But once mastered, there are considerable benefits. “A journey out takes 12 minutes compared to 90 minutes. We can get out there fast, fix the turbine, and get that back up and in service,” Mr Sampson said. 

Currently operating the 27m MV Discoverer and 18m MV Supporter vessels to reach the 35 turbines off the East Yorkshire coast alongside the helicopter, he gave a taste of what will come as Race Bank joins the portfolio in Royal

“We are expecting operations and maintenance handover to part happen this time next year, and we are growing in size,” Mr Sampson (pictured left) said. It is not just the team, and the award-winning building too. Larger vessels with accommodation, gyms and recreation space are being commissioned. “It is a game-change for us. From a safety perspective for the guys and gals out there, we can get on a turbine walking to work, with a self-levelling platform. Efficiency-wise it means
much more time on a turbine. “It is a long term, 25 year view. The pipeline of projects in this area is heavily off the Grimsby coat, we are happy to be part of it and doing it in Grimsby.”

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