Port facilities chosen for €2bn wind farm

RWE npower renewables has appointed Cammell Laird and Port of Mostyn to support construction of its Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm off the North Wales coast.

RWE said the move will unlock a significant potential for portside supply chain development, job creation and investments across both North Wales and in Merseyside.

Port of Mostyn, based in Flintshire in North Wales, and Cammell Laird, which is based at Birkenhead, will support the offshore construction and the longer term operation of the wind farm, throughout its lifespan of at least 25 years.

Martin Skiba, head of offshore wind power at RWE Innogy, said: "The space required to store and preassemble the large-scale components is enormous. With the port area in Birkenhead we have now found an ideal construction site to cope with the complex logistics involved. It will take our offshore installation vessel about six hours to cover the 48 km distance to the construction site out at sea. This fits in excellently with our logistics concepts."

The lease agreements concluded between RWE npower renewables and the Cammell Laird shipyard are to run for a term of three years, worth in excess of £5m. The leased port area covers around 34.5 acres and includes a nearby quay of 230 meters on the western bank of the mouth of the River Mersey. It is from here that over the coming months the foundations for a total of 160 wind turbines of the 3.6 megawatt class will be preassembled, loaded and shipped to the wind farm site in Liverpool Bay around 18 kilometres off the Welsh coast.

John Syvret, Cammell Laird chief executive, added: "This is an immensely important contract for the company to sign. It catapults us further into the offshore renewables market and showcases the breadth of skills and expertise we have to offer to the broader engineering market, as well as the maritime sector.

"We hope this deal helps express the scale of our ambition and reinforces our standing as one of the world's leading engineering companies. Our vision has always been to generate wealth and secure long-term skilled jobs on Merseyside."

To build the Gwynt y Môr wind farm, the offshore installation vessel will transport up to three so-called monopile foundations plus transition pieces at a time and install them at a water depth of between 12 and 28 metres. Each of these foundations is between 50 and 70 metres long and weighs up to 700 tonnes. Subsequently, the actual wind power systems will be installed, including tower components, nacelle and rotor star. The installation vessel can transport and install up to six complete sets of turbines of the 3.6 megawatt class at the same time.

The port of Mostyn on the north coast of Wales will become the operating base for the Gwynt y Môr offshore wind power plant from 2014. A corresponding lease contract has been concluded with the local port operator. The two existing RWE offshore wind farms in the Irish Sea, North Hoyle and Rhyl Flats, are already operated from this port.

In December 2008, the Department of Energy and Climate Change granted consent to RWE npower renewables, the UK fully owned subsidiary of RWE Innogy, to build and operate the offshore wind farm.

The Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm is a 576MW, 160 turbine UK Round 2 wind farm being developed by a consortium of RWE Innogy, holding a 60% stake, Stadtwerke München, a 30% stake, and electronics and engineering giant Siemens, holding a 10% stake.

Construction of the project began in November 2009 when work to prepare land at St Asaph for the construction of a new 132/400kV substation was carried out by North Wales civil engineering company Jones Bros. Onshore cable installation work is being carried out by Wrexham firm Prysmian, and is now well underway, while construction of the substation is being carried out by Siemens and National Grid, and is also well advanced.

In January, over £200m of contract work was awarded to Bladt Industries and EEW Special Pipe Construction to manufacture the wind turbine foundations for the offshore wind farm.

The first foundations were scheduled for delivery into the UK in late 2011 and anticipated that foundation installation work will be completed by late 2013.

Last September, Siemens awarded Belfast-based Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries a design and build contract for two offshore substation platforms for the wind farm, which are expected to be completed in June next year.

The wind farm is expected to be fully operational towards the end of 2014.

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