United Kingdom

United Kingdom

'Still some milestones ahead'

UK: Bigger turbines and the creation of a local supply chain are raising expectations for the future of offshore wind in the UK. The next step could be looking at export potential.

Dong's Burbo Bank Extension project is the first deployment for MHI Vestas' V164 8MW turbine
Dong's Burbo Bank Extension project is the first deployment for MHI Vestas' V164 8MW turbine

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Ten years after completing the first Burbo Bank project, Danish utility Dong Energy officially switched on the 258MW Burbo Bank Extension site off the coast of Liverpool on 17 May.

It marks a "step-change" in the market, according to Dong's group CEO Henrik Poulsen, speaking at the inauguration event at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, from where you can just about see the 195-metre high turbines, installed 7km from the coast.

It is the first project to utilise the MHI Vestas V164-8.00MW turbine in a commercial capacity, much like the initial 90MW Burbo Bank project, which, Dong was keen to point out, was the first to use Siemens' 3.6MW turbines.

It is also among the first UK offshore projects to use major components produced locally. Some of the 32 turbines' blades were designed and made at MHI Vestas' plant on the Isle of Wight, southern England, while the EEW and Bladt Industries' UK-joint venture Offshore Structures Britain (OSB) fabricated a share of the project's transition pieces at its facility in Teeside, north-east England.

"Burbo Bank Extension becomes Dong Energy's ninth operational wind farm in the UK. It demonstrates our strong commitment to this country's energy sector (and) industrial strategy. An increasingly strong local offshore wind supply chain is (placing) UK suppliers in a good place to compete both at home and internationally," Poulsen said.

"This is truly about providing skill-building and job creation all around the UK. The offshore wind industry has made enormous progress in a relatively short space of time.

"By embracing innovation and deploying more powerful turbines, we have been able to reduce costs and make this a highly competitive form of low-carbon generation," he added.

UK supply chain

Dong's country mananger, Benj Sykes, was equally excited by the UK supply chain's potential that is now beginning to take shape.

"In terms of supply chain and local jobs, and in terms of a lower costs trajectory for this sector, it's very exciting," Sykes said. "We're really seeing the UK supply chain starting to flourish.

"I think we will see this as a stride forward. It is an important milestone, but it is on a journey that still has some milestones ahead.

"What we have seen in recent months is the benefits being harvested from commitments that we and the government have made to keep momentum in the industry to enable a confidence in the supply chain, and in the technology development that has enabled us to take these measured risks," Sykes added.

"The exciting thing for me is that this is the first time at an inauguration that I've been able to talk about exports. This is something that we have always talked about; UK content of UK wind farms, but we need to start talking about the value of this industry to the UK economy as a whole. We have examples where we cannot get UK suppliers to supply UK wind farms because they are exporting.

"We need to continue to drive a UK supply chain through having visibility in the future. There was previously a plan to continue to deploy out certain volumes in the 2020s. There is no reason to hold back on that. Indeed, as costs have come down, we should be ambitious to make the most of those cost reductions," said Sykes.

Turbine supplier, Danish-Japanese joint venture MHI Vestas, said it was also looking to start exporting from its UK facility. "We will utilise the existing capabilities fully and in the near future we will also start to export out of the UK. When the market grows and the demand gets bigger we will also extend the facilities," said CEO Jens Tommerup.


October 2007

Inauguration of Dong Energy's 90MW Burbo Bank project, sited on the Burbo Flats near Liverpool in the Irish Sea. Power is supplied by 25 Siemens SWT-3.6-107 units


The Crown Estate announces that operators can apply for extensions to existing projects. Dong identifies Burbo Bank as a potential site

April 2010

The Crown Estate awards Dong an agreement for lease for an area of 40 square kilometres adjacent to the original project

February 2014

Dong announces the MHI-Vestas V164-8MW turbine will power the project and makes a preliminary order for 32 units. It is the first order for the new machine

April 2014

The Burbo Bank Extension project receives contract for difference (CfD) from the UK government with a strike price of £150/MWh (2012 prices) over 15 years

June 2014

MHI Vestas starts construction of a second V164 prototpe

August 2014

Dong confirms order for MHI Vestas turbines

September 2014

Project is fully consented

December 2014

Dong makes final investment decision; V164 turbine awarded provisional type certification from DNV GL

January 2015

Dong chooses Bladt Industries and EEW to manufacture the foundations and transition pieces

February 2015

UK-based VolkaInfra awarded the contract to install onshore cables

April 2015

V164 turbine awarded full type certification; Jan De Nul awarded contract to install export and inter-array cables; Dong subsidiary A2Sea confirmed as turbine-installation supplier

May 2015

Project reaches a government-mandated milestone of 10% of the total predicted expenditure

June 2015

Van Oord is contracted to install the monopile foundations in the Irish Sea

February 2016

Dong sells 50% of its stake to Danish pension fund PKA and Kirkbi, owner of the Lego Group, for £660 million

May 2016

Offshore construction work starts

July 2016

The first batch of 80-metre rotor blades are shipped from MHI Vestas' blade facility on the Isle of Wight to the pre-assembly site in Belfast, Northern Ireland

August 2016

The turbines start shipping from Denmark to Belfast, the load-out port for the site

September 2016

First turbine is installed

November 2016

Project starts generating power

April 2017

Project is fully commissioned

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