Jul 12 2015

Greater Gabbard Wind Farm: A Case Study

Published by

Introduction

The Greater Gabbard Wind Farm consists of 140 turbines located about 14 miles offshore of Lowestoft, Suffolk in England. Agreements and project planning began around August 2005, and construction began in 2008 (4Coffshore). The 500MW wind farm was proposed to provide energy for 415,000 homes in England though it now provides power for up to 530,000 homes. The project was not fully commissioned until August 7, 2013 though it was producing power by June of 2012 (4Coffshore).

The project began as a joint venture between Scottish and Southern Energy (formerly Airtricity) and Fluor. According to website 4Coffshore, Fluor sold its 50% share in the project to SSE in May of 2008 and SSE sold a 50% share to RWE in November of 2008.

Location and Environment

Location of Greater Gabbard Wind Farm Image courtesy of SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy)

Location of Greater Gabbard Wind Farm
Image courtesy of SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy)

Around 12 to 14 miles offshore, within the Outer Thames Estuary, is the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm. At the time of its construction, Greater Gabbard was the largest wind farm in the world and was located the furthest offshore and in the deepest waters. The turbines lie in water ranging from 24 to 34 meters deep and wind speeds average 9 m/s (LORC). The farm is still one of the largest in the world, comprised of 147 square kilometers in the North Sea. 3 cables, each 45km long, transport the energy created to shore.

The harbor porpoise is the most common marine mammal in the area around Greater Gabbard. Image courtesy of National Geographic

The harbor porpoise is the most common marine mammal in the area around Greater Gabbard.
Image courtesy of National Geographic

An environmental impact assessment was performed prior to construction and categorized impact on sub-tidal benthic ecology, fish, marine mammals, inter-tidal/terrestrial ecology, and birds. The assessment concluded that for all native species besides birds and marine mammals, there are no cumulative impacts expected. For birds and marine mammals, the cumulative impact was predicted to be non-invasive enough that it did not require further research

Construction

Wind Turbines at Greater Gabbard Image courtesy of Industry Tap

Wind Turbines at Greater Gabbard
Image courtesy of Industry Tap

140 3.6MW turbines make up Greater Gabbard. The turbines are Siemens model SWT-3.6-107 (LORC). These turbines are perfect for the area with a cut in wind speed of 4m/s which complements the average wind speed of 9m/s (LORC).

Costs

According to developer SSE, Greater Gabbard was a £1.6bn investment which is equivalent to 2,482,800,000 US dollars. The project also consists of a £1.5 million operations and maintenance base. Reportedly, the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm was the first project of its kind to be funded by capital markets. Balfour Beatty investments Ltd., Equitix Ltd., and AMP investments Ltd. were the investors in the wind farm.

Overall, the wind farm has proven to be a valuable asset for the Lowestoft community. Over 8 million working hours were spent developing the project and 100 jobs were created at the maintenance base. 95% of the employees are from the local area. Greater Gabbard is also involved in the education of local college students who may help to carry out wind energy development in the future. The SSE non-technical summary also states that the energy output of Greater Gabbard is equivalent to an annual offset of more than 1,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm represented a large step in the development of wind energy. Its location further offshore and in deeper waters has shown new possibilities for offshore wind energy. It provides power for upwards of 500,000 homes in the Suffolk area and provides jobs and education for the community. Environmental impact assessments showed minimal risk for native species and for the ecology of the impacted area. Overall, the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm is a great example for the rest of the world for the future opportunities of offshore wind energy and the ability of wind energy to provide power in large quantities.

Sources

2014, Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm, SSE Vimeo, https://vimeo.com/84318836, (July 12,    2015)

Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm, LORC Knowledge, http://www.lorc.dk/offshore-wind-farms-map/greater-gabbard (July 12, 2015)

Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Ltd, October 2005, Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm Non-Technical Summary October 2005, Scottish and Southern Energy, http://sse.com/media/93004/NonTechnicalSummary.pdf, (July 12, 2015)

Greater Gabbard, Scottish and Southern Energy, http://sse.com/whatwedo/ourprojectsandassets/renewables/GreaterGabbard/, (July 12, 2015)

Key Project Dates for Greater Gabbard, 4Coffshore, http://www.4coffshore.com/windfarms/project-dates-for-greater-gabbard-uk05.html (July 12, 2015)

Quilter, J., 10 September 2012, Greater Gabbard Completed and Operational, Wind Power Monthly, http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1149097/greater-gabbard-completed-operational, (July 12, 2015)

 

No responses yet




Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.