Triton Knoll names preferred turbine supplier and is keen to build UK footprint

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 18 Sep 2017

TRITON Knoll has selected MHI Vestas as its preferred supplier for turbines at the 860MW offshore wind farm off the Lincolnshire coast.

The company's groundbreaking 9.5MW model has been selected, with 90 required to build out the array.

It will be one of the first in the world to install the machines, described as the most powerful and efficient on the market.

The decision comes a week after the UK Government awarded the project a Contract for Difference, the strike-price based subsidy, in the same round that saw Hornsea Project Two succeed also.

While still at preferred supplier stage, the wind farm project will now work with MHI Vestas to maximise and build on the manufacturer’s already strong UK footprint, which includes an industrialisation plan which will safeguard or create 800 UK jobs and investments of over £200 million.

It will be hoped this can involve Able Marine Energy Park, which Triton Knoll has committed to - should it be ready. The developers, Able UK, have stressed the need for more than one assembly project to make it a reality, but feel the cost reductions could be a "liberating factor".  The selection would seem to rule out Green Port Hull where Siemens produces.

Triton's project director, James Cotter, said: “We achieved a successful result at the CfD auction, thanks to a business case that was designed through collaboration with the supply chain and which puts cost reduction, low cost generation and UK content at the forefront of our project.

“MHI Vestas is absolutely central to our business plan, which aims to deliver at least 50 per cent UK content over the lifetime of the project, while creating significant value for the UK and energy consumers from the delivery of our wind farm. "As one of the world’s leading wind turbine companies, we are delighted to have MHI Vestas on board and look forward to working with them to further maximise innovation and value in all aspects of the project.”

Another Danish firm, MHI Vestas is behind the Humber Gateway turbines, the closest offshore wind farm to Grimsby, where all the arrays off Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are operated and maintained from. 

An integral part of MHI Vestas UK infrastructure is a state-of-the-art blade factory on the Isle of Wight which opened in 2011. The large-blade competence centre produces the turbine’s 80 metre blades for projects in the UK and throughout northern Europe. The Triton Knoll team said such continued investment was a significant factor in the selection as preferred supplier. It ramped up production teams last autumn, as well as in Denmark, with employment swelled at another blade plant in Nakskov and the location for the nacelle shell built in Lindø.

It is in the process of expanding manufacturing facilities for the key elements within the nacelle, the engine room of the turbine, at Port of Esbjerg, Denmark.

Innogy and Statkraft, the two utility giants behind Triton Knoll, anticipate a financial investment decision in 2018, with full onshore construction starting shortly after, should it be positive, with offshore construction starting in 2020.

First energy generation could be as early as mid-2021, with the project expecting to begin commissioning in 2021.

Triton Knoll won backing with a strike price of £74.75, with a delivery date a year earlier than Hornsea, which came in at an industry-astounding £57.50. 

Dong has so far used Siemens equipment for all East Coast wind farms, but has used MHI Vestas on the West Coast, with Burbo Bank Extension. 

The news comes as those behind Able Marine Energy Park said the quayside can be ready for the Triton Knoll build-out, but that one project wouldn't make it viable.

Neil Etherington, Able UK's group development director said: "The latest round of CfD has demonstrated that the sector is delivering significant savings and the policy, to that end, is working rather well and has astounded many critics. What the sector still needs however is clarity about both the scale and timing of the next rounds of bidding so that we can all plan for the longer term and make real commitments.

“Beyond that we need to seriously increase UK-based activities – what a previous Energy Minister described as ‘payback time’ – rather than import the vast majority of components from the continent.

“Triton Knoll has been steadfast in its support for AMEP and we can certainly deliver within the required timescales. It is no secret though that a single project of this scale could not justify such a high level of investment. We are working with a range of players and stakeholders in this regard and certainly it feels as though the recent CfD could be a potentially liberating factor. Time will tell.” 

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