Race Bank build 'lived up to its name' today's official opening will be told

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 13 Jun 2018

Grimsby’s latest offshore wind farm has been officially opened at a ceremony in the town today.

Race Bank, capable of powering more than half a million homes, has been built by Orsted off the Lincolnshire coast, with construction co-ordinated by a team out of Port of Grimsby East.

It is the second farm from the firm formerly known as Dong Energy, and the company is already well underway with the delivery of Hornsea Project One, set to be the world’s largest array, again from the town.

The latest project, delivered at a name-worthy pace, is part of a cluster of farms creating 500 jobs in the Grimsby port. 

Capable of generating 573MW of green electricity from 91 Siemens Gamesa 6MW wind turbines, the majority of the blades for Race Bank have been manufactured in Hull, making it the first truly pan-Humber wind farm of the six now built off the estuary.

Operated from the £10 million East Coast Hub at Royal Dock, it has also seen the introduction of next generation service operation vessels, carrying and keeping crews offshore for fortnightly shifts.

Matthew Wright, managing director at Orsted UK said: “Race Bank is a fantastic infrastructure project and underlines Orsted’s contribution to the UK’s energy transition. It is also another clear signal of our firm commitment to Grimsby and the Humber, and the UK supply chain for offshore wind. 

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“Race Bank is a hugely significant and innovative project, featuring the first ever turbine blades to be made in Hull and becoming our first wind farm in the UK to be operated using a new service operation vessel. It is also one of the fastest projects we have ever built, with a fantastic safety record, and this is testament to the hard work of the project team and the great relationship we have with our partners. 

“Powering over half a million homes every year, Race Bank is another positive step towards delivering the UK’s decarbonised energy system of the future.” 

Jason Ledden led the team in Grimsby, having moved across from Westermost Rough, the first project. With Race Bank handed over to the operations and maintenance team, he is now working on Hornsea Project Two, which will take the world’s largest crown from Hornsea Project One as they are built out back-to-back.

Powering up as it was built, Race Bank saw Grimsby’s installed capacity pass 1GW last summer. When the next two are built, it will surpass 4GW, with Innogy’s Triton Knoll also anticipated to locate on the South Bank.  

Race Bank is located 17 miles off Chapel St Leonards, with power coming ashore through The Wash. In keeping with the model, Orsted has retained 50 per cent of the farm, selling the balance to investors.

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Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund Five holds 25 per cent, with Sumitomo Corporation in for 12.5 per cent and the balance held by funds advised by Green Investment Group, Arjun Investment Partners and Gravis Capital Management. 

David Tilstone, managing director of Macquarie, said: “The delivery of this landmark project has set new standards for construction safety and speed, and marks a significant milestone in the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy. We are pleased to see the positive contribution Race Bank is already making to the Humber, and we look forward to working closely with our investment partners in the delivery of clean energy for years to come.” 

Race Bank was completed at the end of January, with vessel Edda Passat arriving in early March.

It was given a baptism of fire – or wind – with spring’s Beast from the East pushing generation to over 90 per cent of the farm's capacity

View the amazing video of the amazing construction project:

Four years ago Race Bank offshore wind farm was launched as a development project in the village of Sutton Bridge, on the Lincolnshire / Norfolk border. Aware of the potential opportunity it presented for the town and the wider Humber region, David Laister made the 140-mile round trip to report on what could well be. Here he gives his thoughts on what has been achieved.

The two hour drive due south has proved to be as fruitful as the fields of produce that surrounded the rural setting.

For me, that day back in late spring 2014 marked the start of a journey for a dedicated team that I have delighted in following, after Orsted – then Dong Energy – had bought the project ‘off plan’ from Centrica in the previous December.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to join Matthew Wright, Orsted’s UK managing director, on a flight over the spectacular feat of engineering spread over 75 sq km, now run out of Grimsby. 

The majestic 177m structures dwarf those of the nearer shore farms off the Lincolnshire coast, and it is great that the answer to the question I posed after that event back in spring 2014 (will it be Grimsby's?) – was a resounding 'yes'. 

Back then, in May 2014, there were no certainties, nothing confirmed, but Grimsby was "on the radar, very much so" according to Benj Sykes, then UK country manager.

The first Humber project, Westermost Rough, was being realised, a 35-turbine 210MW project off Hornsea, and Royal Dock had been established as the base, with good reports fed back from the early arrivals - among them Tue Lippert, who did so much to win hearts and minds in North East Lincolnshire. Another champion was Brent Cheshire, recently retired UK chairman, Dong's first employee in the country who was last weekend awarded a CBE for his commitment to the renewable energy industry. They banged a drum and the East Coast Hub became a catalyst for much still to come. 

There was also a total of 1.6GW of offshore wind in Britain then. Grimsby alone is now almost a spark's jump under that installed capacity.

Today's view from the bridge of Edda Passat looking towards Orsted's East Coast Hub.

Fast forward four years, and a total of 50 people are dedicated to Race Bank at the company’s rapidly expanding Royal Dock site, with 4.2 million hours of work to build the farm co-ordinated from the construction base inherited from the forerunner on Port of Grimsby East. The 50 are part of a 250-strong Orsted team now in the town, a figure set to ramp up towards 500 as the Hornsea projects follow, and then maybe more, as further seabed could be opened up. Hornsea One then Two will be the world’s largest, with Race Bank coming in at fifth, taking up 10,500 football pitches worth of North Sea.

The view from the helicopter window was a superb sight, with the 75m blades catching the sunlight as they pay back the huge outlay, megawatt by megawatt. One turn powers a house for a day, which coincidentally is the time it takes to install a single turbine. And they are getting quicker.The record time for a single installation of a Siemens Gamesa 6MW turbine is also held by the farm, while scheduled maintenance has fallen from five days, to three, to one. It is all contributing to the cost reduction that amazed many when Hornsea Two got the go-ahead last September. 

Prior to the 40 minute flight from Humberside, where CHC serve out the cntract for Race Bank and Hornsea, I enjoyed a tour of the seaborne workhorse that will ensure Race Bank remains a frontrunner. The purpose built Edda Passat service operation vessel is an amazing piece of kit.

Port turnaround for Edda Passat.

The 60 cabin vessel has brought a new way of working to offshore wind, as it adopts an oil and gas model, with crew working two weeks on, two weeks off. Emblazoned with Grimsby as her home port, the 81m long vessel can accommodate 40 workers, in addition to a maritime crew of 20 people, all in separate, luxurious cabins.

Offshore wind technicians need powering too... 

One of 60 spacious cabins.

I saw an immaculate galley, phenomenal mess room, and a television room bordering on cinema-scale. What a place to watch the World Cup, especially if England get to face Denmark!   There is a clear split between work and rest, but when the job head is on, you can see the thought that has gone in, feeding in from early projects. Cranes and trolleys unite to prevent manual lifting, with an elevator on board to access the walk to work platform that spans from vessel to turbine.

The on-board control room, in frequent contact with Grimsby's East Coast Hub operations and maintenance base.

One level of the Edda Passat is predominantly dedicated to stores and workshop for the offshore wind turbine operations and maintenace.

"Everything is safety, safety, safety from design to execution," deputy operations manager Matthew Lord enthused. He joined Orsted 22 months ago after more than two decades in the RAF as an aircraft engineer. He ended his service as a chief technician, managing crews like he does now, in Britain and beyond.

From Lincolnshire, his wife is delivering babies in Grimsby and Louth, who could well go on to work on the teams decommissioning or repowering the turbines in 25 years, as Orsted invests heavily in skills, education and training in the area.  

"This stood out from all the jobs as a fresh challenge," he told me. "It is similar to what I have done, there is an absolute focus on health and safety, but it is a different environment." 

In the last trip out, a total of 300 transfers were completed via the work boat Edda Passat carries, with other vessels pushing on and the walkway in use.

"It is a great vessel with a great crew that keep it that way," he added. "From working in the galley to washing the clothing, every room is spotless and it is all done with a smile on their faces," he said.

Coverage from May 2014's Business Telegraph.

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