Marine renewables - OE September 2010

Russell McCulley
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cape Wind clears another hurdle
Another challenge to its long-delayed quest to become the US’s first offshore wind farm was successfully fought off by Cape Wind as federal regulators in August upheld an earlier decision that said the project posed no threat to airways.

Opponents of the proposed 130-turbine development offshore Massachusetts’ Cape Cod had filed petitions challenging the Federal Aviation Administration’s determination of no hazard.

The wind farm is waiting for a final federal permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers that will clear the way for construction to begin next year, said Cape Wind communications director Mark Rodgers.

The FAA decision leaves opponents no more administrative appeals, although several lawsuits seeking to block the project have been filed, he said.

‘At this point, our opponents have a perfect losing legal track record. And we’re confident the [FAA] ruling will stand,’ Rodgers added.

Cape Wind announced in March that it had entered an agreement with Siemens Energy for 130 3.6MW turbines (OE April). 

Poland’s untapped potential
Development of offshore wind farms in Poland has been slow, despite the country’s leadership of the wind energy sector in central and eastern Europe. Although the offshore wind energy market is well-established in western Europe, primarily in the UK and Denmark, central and eastern European nations have yet to appear on the offshore wind energy market map.

According to recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan, the most formidable obstructions faced by the sector in Poland include the absence of legislation enabling offshore wind projects, undeveloped grid infrastructure, and the lack of grid connectivity.

Another drawback is that offshore platforms are deemed to be artificial islands which, under Polish law, can only exist for five years. ‘This is a complication, as the investment process takes around seven to eight years and the wind farm operates for at least 20-25 years,’ says Frost & Sullivan analyst Magdalena Dziegielewska.

However, recent developments suggest the tide may be turning, with external pressure being applied to encourage Poland to move offshore. To fulfill EU obligations, for example, Poland will have to boost its total installed capacity from the present 1005MW, all of it onshore, to 10,000-12,000MW by 2020 – a growth curve unlikely to be achieved without offshore facilities.

Also, the Polish Marine Network Consortium has been created to spur development and remove barriers faced by the sector.

‘One way to do so,’ believes Dziegielewska, ‘is to develop the Polish Baltic Track in order to establish a high voltage, transmission submarine network. This will assist in connecting offshore wind park power transformers with a main grid to allow future connections of wind parks.’

Given the necessary legislative changes and grid development, Frost & Sullivan’s admittedly ‘optimistic outlook’ is that the first Polish offshore wind farms may be established within 10 years.

RISING STAR: Ian Clark, a mechanical and field construction engineer with Fluor, was named as the European Construction Institute’s ‘Young Professional of the Year’ at an ECI awards ceremony in Paris last month. Clark, 24, is part of the Fluor UK team working for SSE and RWE npower renewables on the world’s largest offshore wind farm currently under construction, Greater Gabbard. Clark’s managing director Ian Thomas said the ECI award recognised the 24-year old engineer’s ‘commitment to a challenging project and marked him out as a young engineer of particular promise’.

Clark is pictured receiving his award from ECI president Michel Virlogeux (left) and Dr Naomi Brookes, Royal Academy of Engineering professor of complex project management.

Taming the tides
Ground-breaking work at Britain’s European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) has seen a dedicated DP2 cable laying vessel negotiate the Orkney Islands’ fast currents and variable tidal conditions for the first time to install submarine cable for the centre’s test facilities.

Global Marine Systems’ CS Sovereign last month successfully completed the direct shore end landing and lay of two new power cables at the Eday tidal test site and one new power cable at the Billia Croo wave test site. Global Marine Energy sales manager Kevin Todd paid tribute to the crew’s ‘professionalism, perseverance and immense ability in installing these cables in the most of demanding environments’. The 130m-long ship continues working in the area on a programme of cable refurbishment and ROV survey work.

‘The addition of three new cables reflects a growing demand for berths at our test sites from the developers of wave and tidal energy devices,’ said Emec MD Neil Kermode. The first new cable will be used by Atlantis Resources for its tidal turbine later in the year while the second will be used for Voith Hydro Ocean Current Technologies in advance of its planned turbine installation.


Ground works started recently for the UK National Renewable Energy Centre’s ‘Project Nautilus’ – a new 3MW marine drive train technology development and testing facility – in Blyth, Northumberland. Other Narec projects planned there for the offshore wind industry over the next two years include construction of a 100m blade test facility and 12MW drive train facility.

Also in Northumberland, a new offshore engineering company, O-Power, has been created to offer wind energy concept development, analysis, supply and installation services. Headed by Tony Trapp, co-founder of IHC Engineering Business, O-Power is supported by EB’s Dutch parent group IHC Merwede.

JDR Cable Systems secured the largest single award – £2 million – in the latest round of offshore wind technology grants from the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change. It will contribute to JDR’s work on high voltage export and array cables for distribution of power from next-generation, multimegawatt turbines. Also confirmed by DECC was a £5 million grant for Siemens Windpower, applied for under a previous funding round. Siemens will use the money to develop a 6MW offshore turbine with integrated foundation design.

Irish renewable energy solutions and maintenance services provider Obelisk Energy has entered into a strategic partnership with Heidra. The two have formed Wind Measurement International to offer the renewables sector ‘the most accurate data and predictions on wind resource assessment’. OE

Categories: Europe North America Renewables

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