The Anonymous Widower

How Long Does It Take To Build An Offshore Wind Farm?

 

These are some timescales and costs for the construction of some wind farms.

East Anglia One

East Anglia One is a 714 MW offshore wind farm, which consists of 102 turbines on fixed foundations, in a maximum water depth of 53 metres.

  • Planning consent –  June 2014.
  • Contracts – April 2016
  • Offshore construction – June 2018
  • Commissioned – July 2020

It is expected to cost £2.5 billion.

Hornsea One

Hornsea One is a 1200 MW offshore wind farm, which consists of 174 turbines on fixed foundations, in a maximum water depth of 30 metres.

  • Planning consent –  April 2014.
  • Contracts – March/April 2016
  • Offshore construction – January 2018
  • Commissioned – March 2020

It is expected to cost £4.2 billion.

Hornsea Two

Hornsea Two is a 1400 MW offshore wind farm, which consists of 165 turbines on fixed foundations, in a maximum water depth of 30 metres.

  • Planning consent –  August 2016.
  • Offshore construction – 2020
  • Commissioned – August 2022

I can’t find any costs.

Moray East

Moray East is a 950 MW offshore wind farm, which consists of 100 turbines on fixed foundations, in a maximum water depth of 50 metres.

  • Planning consent –  2014.
  • Financial Close – December 2018
  • Offshore construction – July 2020
  • Commissioned – July 2022

It is expected to cost £2.6 billion.

Keadby Wind Farm

Keadby Wind Farm is a 68 MW onshore wind farm, which consists of 34 turbines.

SSE says this about its construction timescale.

After receiving planning permission in 2008, construction began in 2012 and the first turbine foundation was complete in February 2013. The final turbine was assembled on 11 December 2013 and the project was completed in summer 2014.

I can’t find any costs.

Can I Deduce Anything?

Two things are similar on the four fixed-foundation offshore wind farms.

Planning Consent To Commissioning Seems To Take About Six To Eight Years

Moray East took eight years and the other three took six.

In addition Keadby onshore wind farm took six years.

This indicates to me, that any improvements to the planning process for wind farms could shorten the planning process for many wind farms and allow offshore construction of these wind farms to start earlier.

The Start Of Offshore Construction To commissioning Seems To Take About Two Years

It surprised me that it takes twice as long to go from planning to the start of offshore construction, than to actually build and commission the offshore components of the project.

In addition Keadby onshore wind farm took two years.

How will these two observations affect floating wind farms, which could be more numerous in the future?

The home page of the Principle Power web site, shows a floating wind turbine being constructed and floated out.

  • The turbine and its float are assembled in a deep water dock, using a large crane mounted on the dock.
  • This dockside assembly must be less dependent on good weather, than doing assembly onto a fixed foundation forty miles or more out to sea.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that floating wind farms may have substantial health and safety, and construction advantages, but I doubt they’d save much time on the current two years of offshore construction.

But I suspect, they would be one of these types of project that would only rarely be late.

Assembly And Project Management Issues

As with many types of construction, I suspect good project management will be key to building both fixed-foundation and floating offshore wind farms.

For fixed-foundation wind farms, a steady stream of turbines, foundations, substations and connecting cables would need to be delivered to a tight schedule to the assembly point offshore, where turbines, foundations, substations and connecting cables would be lifted into place by a crane mounted on a barge or ship.

For floating wind farms, a steady stream of turbines, floats and probably some connecting cables would need to be delivered to a tight schedule to the assembly dock in a convenient port, where turbines would be lifted onto floats by a crane mounted on the dock. Once complete, the floating wind turbines would be towed into position, anchored and connected to the offshore sub-station.

  • No large offshore crane would be needed.
  • The dockside crane could be sized for the largest turbines.
  • Floating turbines would be brought back to the dockside for major serving and updating.
  • One assembly dock could serve several wind farms during construction and operation.

Given that in the latest ScotWind leasing round, there was 17.4 GW of floating wind farms and 9.7 GW of fixed-foundation wind farms, which is 64/36 % split, I can see that the proportion of floating wind farms will increase.

Good project management, with particular attention to the rate of the production of critical components will be needed for both fixed-foundation and floating offshore wind farms.

Perhaps it would help, if we reduced the numbers of types of each components?

Would it be too far to imagine a British Standard float, that could handle any manufacturer’s turbine with a standard connecting cable? This is Plug-and-Play at the very heavy end.

Conclusion

Consider.

  • As the floating wind technology matures, I can see the designs getting more affordable and the proportion of floating wind farms increasing dramatically.
  • I also believe that in the future, it will take a shorter time to install, connect up and commission a wind farm.

This leads me to think, that in future, it is reasonable to make the following assumptions.

  • It will take six years or less from planning consent to commissioning.
  • It will take two years or less from the start of construction to commissioning.

Note.

  1. I’m assuming that better project management and improved government legislation, will tend to level down the times.
  2. Floating or fixed foundations doesn’t seem to make much difference.

The UK will become Europe’s zero-carbon power station.

 

September 24, 2022 - Posted by | Energy | , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Not sure planning is the biggest issue seems the time between DCO and contract award needs to be tightened up.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | September 24, 2022 | Reply

    • I certainly think, that if all contracts are looked at and analysed properly, the government can find ways to speed them up.

      I think we’ll find that when we look at the first couple of large floating wind farms, that the construction and commissioning will be faster.

      Comment by AnonW | September 24, 2022 | Reply

  2. You do not give any date for submitting proposal for planning permission. The mine I was involved i took 11 years.

    Comment by Ben | September 24, 2022 | Reply

  3. I take your point, but a lot of the data is not on the Internet.

    Comment by AnonW | September 24, 2022 | Reply

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