Neart na Gaoithe set to produce the cheapest electricity ever generated from a UK offshore wind farm by deploying new technologies

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Global wind and solar company, Mainstream Renewable Power, today announced that its 448 megawatt offshore wind farm in Scotland will use two recently launched technologies which are set to decrease costs, reduce construction and operational risk, improve safety and ultimately provide the cheapest electricity ever produced by a UK offshore wind farm. The technologies, which have been under development for several years, were formally launched last month following extensive design, de-risking and testing work. The technologies include the new Offshore Transmission Module (OTM), by Siemens Energy Management Division and High Wind’s Boom Lock system to be deployed by GeoSea for wind turbine component installation at sea.

Neart na Gaoithe, which was one of only two offshore wind farms awarded a CfD by the UK government in February, received planning consent in October 2014 and is expected to be generating electricity and fully commissioned by 2020.

Commenting on the announcement, Andy Kinsella, Mainstream’s Chief Operations Officer said: “As a global wind and solar company our goal is to deliver a world-class wind farm as well as the best value for money for consumers; and that’s what these technologies will help us achieve.  Safety, innovation and teamwork are three of Mainstream’s core values and we are working closely with our partners to adapt these innovative solutions in order to drive costs down, reduce risk and improve safety. “

He continued: “Neart na Gaoithe is expected to be the first commercially-deployed offshore wind farm that does not require a dedicated heavy offshore substation topside and foundation thanks to Siemens’ new Offshore Transmission Module. We are very excited to see that GeoSea intends to use High Wind’s ground-breaking Boom Lock© system which is a game-changer in terms of installing turbine components at sea in high winds.”

The new Offshore Transmission Module (OTM), by Siemens will completely remove the need for large heavy offshore substation platforms and the associated specialist installation vessels.  The innovative design approach means that two wind turbine foundations can be used to support the OTM modules, which include the essential transmission equipment.  In combination the OTM’s offer the same transmission capacity as a conventional solution but with an expected 30% project saving against the offshore substation system CAPEX costs as well as reducing the operating costs significantly.

“The OTM solution will make a significant contribution to the overall target of reducing the costs of offshore wind power,” says Mike Grainger, Head of AC Grid Access Solutions at Siemens Energy Management. “We are delighted to be able to work closely with Mainstream to deploy this innovation on the Neart na Gaoithe project.”

High Wind’s Boom Lock© system will allow the safe installation of all wind turbine components in winds of up to 15 m/s.  The system is mounted on an offshore crane and is designed to control the movement of the crane hook and the payload in such a way that installation time can be drastically reduced. It will considerably increase safety during the installation of the wind turbines as the heavy payloads’ uncontrolled movements in windy conditions will be greatly reduced. This will result in savings due to reduced cost for installation vessels, installation crews and related costs, as well as increased income due to earlier completion of the wind farms.

Bart De Poorter, General Manager of GeoSea noted: “Logically, wind farms are being built in areas where there is a lot of wind. That’s why it makes sense to use the right tools to maximise on the workability during periods of strong winds and, at the same time, maintain the highest level of safety.  Offshore wind projects are an important business activity for GeoSea. We look forward to capitalising on the benefits of Boom Lock© in future projects by improving safety as well as productivity as we saw during the development and testing of the Boom Lock© system that was done in close cooperation with GeoSea”.