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Lessons to be learned at sea from offshore developers

OFFSHORE: Developers of offshore wind farms should listen to the experience of pioneering offshore developers, according to the man behind one of the UK's largest ongoing projects.

Speaking at a Windpower Monthly event on next-generation offshore, Ole Bigum Nielsen, head of offshore wind at Vattenfall, urged delegates to learn from his company's experiences in building the Thanet offshore wind farm in the UK.

Right from the outset when construction work began early in 2009, things got off to a bad start, Nielsen said. Harbour facilities at Ramsgate in Kent were not ready; dredging of a berth to enable it to accept the foundation installation vessel had been delayed by six weeks, so Vattenfall moved to plan B, which was to use a harbour in the Netherlands.

Later, three mechanical breakdowns of the installation vessel lost the project 40 days. Downtime due to adverse weather conditions was factored into the programme. But Nielsen said the industry would need the next generation of vessels for building wind farms further out to sea to be less sensitive to the weather.

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