DONG Energy is today (22 September 2016) announcing plans for a £multi-million investment in Grimsby to create the UK's largest offshore wind operations and maintenance hub.
Subject to planning approval, the new facility will be developed in the town's Royal Dock and will initially support Westermost Rough, Race Bank and Hornsea Project One offshore wind farms. However, it will have the capacity to support other east coast wind farms in DONG Energy's future development pipeline.
Transforming the way wind farms are supported, the hub will be served by high-tech vessels capable of accommodating up to 60 crew and technicians while remaining at sea for long periods. The hub will also include a comprehensive marine and helicopter coordination centre capable of providing 24-7 service to offshore operations across the UK and beyond.
Brent Cheshire, DONG Energy's UK Country Chairman, said:
"This new operational hub in Grimsby will be a game changing industry first, raising the bar for the way we serve offshore wind farms. It will generate direct and indirect job opportunities in the Humber region, as well as opportunities for the local supply chain."
"It represents a massive vote of confidence to the UK offshore wind industry and confirms our commitment to the Humber region where by 2019 we expect to have invested around £6 billion."
The new hub will sit alongside the existing Westermost Rough operations and maintenance facility, using additional land to be leased from Associated British Ports.
State-of-the-art Service Operational Vessels (SOVs), supplied by Ostensjo Rederi and designed by Rolls-Royce, are being chartered to operate from the new hub. The first vessel will arrive late next year to support a phased activation on the new hub. The vessel will initially support the operation and maintenance of Race Bank, DONG Energy's 580-megawatt offshore wind farm currently under construction 17 miles off the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coastlines.
Some components needed to maintain wind turbines will be stored in a warehouse on the hub site. Other equipment will arrive from manufacturers on a 'just in time' basis to be loaded onto the new vessel.
Once mobilised, the SOV will spend up to 28 consecutive days on station at the wind farm, where it will be able to service six to eight wind turbines each day. Crews of technicians from DONG Energy and turbine supplier Siemens will work on a two weeks on, two weeks off, shift pattern.
With the SOV in position, technicians will walk safely to work from the vessel's open deck to work on the wind turbines using an innovative motion-compensated gangway. This gangway will remove the need for climbing up and down vertical access ladders as happens when traditional crew transfer vessels push on to the foundation of a turbine.
The bespoke SOVs are expected to set the blueprint for the way in which offshore wind farms are maintained in future, offering significant safety and operational efficiency benefits. They will incorporate a containerised warehouse for the storage of equipment spares, tools and consumables.