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World’s biggest wind turbines now generating power off UK coast

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Thirty-two of the world’s largest wind turbines are up and generating power off the UK coast, as part of a new offshore wind project that is said to be capable of meeting the electricity demand of more than 230,000 homes.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 1.07.40 PM copy

The Burbo Bank Extension project, a joint venture between Danish renewables giant DONG Energy and partners PKA (25%) and the parent company of the LEGO Group KIRKBI (25%), was officially launched on Wednesday in Liverpool – an addition to the existing Burbo Bank wind farm, with 25 3.6MW wind turbines connected to shore by three submarine cables.

Spread across 40 square kilometres of Liverpool Bay, it is the first offshore wind farm in the world to make commercial use of the Vestas 8MW wind turbines, which stand at 195 metres each and have blades longer than nine buses.

DONGvestas

According to DONG, just one of the project’s wind turbines produces more energy than the whole of Vindeby, which is the world’s first offshore wind farm constructed by DONG Energy 25 years ago in Denmark (pictured below).

DONG-Energy-to-dismantle-Vindeby-offshore-wind-farm

“Burbo Bank Extension showcases the rapid innovation in the offshore wind industry,” said DONG CEO Henrik Poulsen in comments on Wednesday.

“Less than 10 years ago at Burbo Bank, we were the first to install Siemens 3.6MW wind turbines and in this short time, the wind turbines have more than doubled in capacity.

“Pushing innovation in this way reduces the cost of electricity from offshore wind and will help to advance the offshore wind industry across the world,” he said.

Poulsen also noted that the project had helped to develop the UK supply chain, being the first offshore wind farm to use UK manufactured blades.

DONG Energy says it is also building a new multi-million pound operations facility in Merseyside that will serve both Burbo Bank Extension and the existing wind farm, creating up to 75 jobs during construction, and employing around 45 people permanently at the site once it is operational later this year.   

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  • Goldie444

    Does the UK still get to keep the electricity after BREXIT 🙂

  • Just_Chris

    Oh yeah, bring it on, here comes the next drop in unit price for wind power. A single 8 MW turbine has to cost less than two 3.6 MW turbines and will produce more than double the output. Let’s hope these turbines find their way to a big empty space in Australia some time soon. Plenty of space here, no need to put them offshore – just give it to me cheap and ugly.

    • Bristolboy

      The challenge with installing such big machines onshore is their sheer size and the logistical challenges that poses. The current V164 is also designed for offshore use, therefore is probably overengineered for use in rural Australia/America/Canada etc.

      • Vox

        You’re not quite right with the point on overengineering.

        Onshore wind turbines have a different set of challenges than offshore wind turbines. Wind at sea has a lot less turbulence, a lot less shear, and virtually no vertical inflow, but has a lot of salinity. On land, depending on the site, you may have high turbulence (trees, complex hills), high shear (flat sites), an vertical inflow (imagine the wind coming from below at Bluff Point Wind Farm, Tasmania), and probably no salinity. So a different set of problems will lead to a different solution.

        That being said the experience being gained with off-shore turbines is more and more being translated to on-shore products. See Vestas’ V136, Senvion’s 3.xM140, etc.

        • Bristolboy

          Vox – all extremely valid points and I must admit I just simplified my message for brevity!

          In my experience of onshore and offshore wind turbines of the same “type” from a major manufacturer, the offshore variant was typically more expensive, with three main reasons given:
          – Salinity
          – Higher average wind speeds at sea
          – A wish to “overengineer” to reduce the chance of failures since offshore maintenance is much more difficult than onshore

    • Joe

      Canberra has plenty of space and we know how much Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey love watching “ugly” windmills do their business !

      • Chris Fraser

        Tony and Joe H were even uglier still. One down, one to go.

  • raaj

    why not write artcle in engineering terms this blade is it so big so large . doing news channel rhetorics o even on engineering info

    • Ian

      Human is comparator , all measurements based on understandable things. Inch – thumb width, foot – size of foot, meter – circumference of earth, kg – jug of water etc etc, so what’s wrong with busses and Olympic swimming pools?

      Engineering is a tool for the advancement and utility of people, so too are companies, governments , mega projects etc. the humanising of measurements reminds us who is boss, that’s moms, dads, individuals and children, not concepts, ideals, religions, machines, cities, companies, kingdoms, constitutions etc.

  • Brunel

    If these are V164-8.0 MW, the specs are:

    ⊙ Each blade weighs 35 tonnes
    ⊙ 80 m blades
    ⊙ Approximate hub height of 105 m

    • Ren Stimpy

      The anti-renewables crowd like to call them windmills. Well if this one was an actual windmill it would pump up a friggin massive volume of groundwater!

  • Chris Harries

    I remember when 1MW was considered the top end to aim for. Most technologies have a max practical size limit, before oversize becomes a negative factor. They must be about there now?

    • thebeastie

      The numbers might look good but thats purely because its not being compared to standard energy generation.

      If you look at the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere, the 140 wind turbines of 3MW each on average generate less then 1MW of power. Which on average is a tiny fraction of any coal power station.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macarthur_Wind_Farm
      2015 total power generated 977.9 GWh or 977,900MWh
      977,900 / 8760_hours_in_a_year = 111MW average power generation.

      For the neodymium magnets created for these wind farms more radioactive waste was created in the production of them then the whole power generated if the wind turbine continually ran for 35 years straight compared to a nuclear power plant. You can even see the radioactive waste 10km2 lake from space.
      http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150402-the-worst-place-on-earth
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html
      https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/rare-earth-mining-china-social-environmental-costs

      For comparison old crappy 1970s era coal power station puts out constant 1,680MW when ever it needs. 15 times more power
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladstone_Power_Station

      • onesecond

        This is utter nonsense and not supported by your links. Rare earth mining in China is done for a whole lot of things, first of all the million smartphones and it is done very dirty and needs better government regulation and environemental rules, this much is true, but the rest of your comment is just bs.

        • thebeastie

          I did the maths my self because of the fact the amount of neodymium magnets that go into a windturbine thats gearless (to reduce maintenance/cost) is huge compared to other uses. I just googled around and found an article that is dedicated to talking about the fact windturbines create more radioactive waste for their highest expected lifetime then the same energy created in GWh from a nuclear power plant.

          http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/big-winds-dirty-little-secret-rare-earth-minerals/

          Quote ->”For perspective, America’s nuclear industry produces between 4.4 million and 5 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel each year. That means the U.S. wind industry may well have created more radioactive waste last year than our entire nuclear industry produced in spent fuel. In this sense, the nuclear industry seems to be doing more with less: nuclear energy comprised about one-fifth of America’s electrical generation in 2012, while wind accounted for just 3.5 percent of all electricity generated in the United States.”<-

          • Rod

            IER has been described as a front group for the fossil fuel industry, firms in which have in the past donated money to the Institute.
            Any other references?

          • Just_Chris

            You have to be careful with radioactive waste, there is a massive difference between high level radioactive waste and low grade radioactive waste. It’s a bit like comparing CO and CO2 – both are “carbon” pollution but a 1000kg of CO released in a major city would kill thousands, 1000kg of CO2 is just the London morning rush hour.

          • Scottwe

            … and for the record, nuclear power plants ends up as many tonnes of radioactive concrete, steel and other building material that has to be suitably managed/disposed. But back to the point, wow, wonderful to see 8MW wind turbines being installed!

      • Chris Harries

        The first bit is true, Beastie. I was only talking about generator output. This is the same for all generators, but you are correct that most energy systems are rated according to their average energy yield, not the max output they deliver at any one time. Even hydro-electric dams are rated according to net output, though the generator capacity is still relevant.

      • Ren Stimpy

        Yes it is – continually – being compared to ‘standard’ energy generation, by the professionals.

        https://www.lazard.com/media/438038/levelized-cost-of-energy-v100.pdf

      • Just_Chris

        There are a couple holes in your argument:

        Coal power stations don’t operate continually there are plenty of coal power stations that operate at 60%

        Offshore wind farms operate at higher capacity factors – the London array hit 45% in 2015.

        Coal contains radioactive minerals so that 1970’s power station would also produce radioactive waste.

        Burning coal releases mercury which causes more problems than radioactive waste – the reason the WHO recommended pregnant women reduce their intake of certain types of fish is due to mercury not radiation.

        The neodymium magnets will be recycled at the end of their life

        • Just_Chris

          By the way I don’t dispute that current wind farms are too small or not numerous enough – we currently have about 43 GW of installed capacity in Australia if we want to get to serious renewable energy usage that number needs to be far bigger.

          • thebeastie

            I am convinced we will be building them ever and never catch up to real world needs, EVs are just beginning and Tesla’s new semi truck uses a battery pack expected to be just under 1MWh of 800KWh.
            https://www.wired.com/2017/04/tesla-electric-truck/

  • Drake Anderson

    So what is the cost of the project or each turbine?
    And the material used for each turbine, is 4000 tonne of steel and concrete?

  • Farmer Dave

    This is really good to see. One of the aspects that most pleases me is that the installation vessel in the middle photo looks like it started life as as jack-up offshore oil drilling rig and now has been re-purposed as a wind turbine installation vessel. This is such a good symbol of the phasing-out of fossil fuels! The message goes deeper: DONG Energy started life as Danish Oil and Gas, and has re-invented itself as a renewables company taking advantage of its offshore engineering skills.

    Offshore oil and gas is a high technology business, highly dependant on good engineering and skilled personnel. While it can have a macho culture, many of the people working in the industry love doing so. Offshore wind is a great destination for the people, their skills and some of their capital assets (like jack-up drilling rigs), to transition into as we phase out fossil fuels.