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United Kingdom

New life for damaged Blyth offshore turbines

Two offshore wind turbines off the port of Blyth in north-east England are to be returned to service after standing idle since the cable taking power to shore was damaged some 18 months ago. E.ON UK, which has acquired 100% ownership of the 4 MW project after it bought out the interests of its joint venture partners, Shell, Nuon and AMEC, is to repair the cable. The two Vestas turbines -- the first to be erected in UK waters -- were installed in 2000. Despite the rigours of their North Sea location, they were working well until the cable, bolted to the rocks of the seabed, broke. The company believes this was due to wear and tear as a result of its rocky location. Until E.ON's acquisition, the project owners had been considering whether to dismantle the turbines rather than repair the cable. "The scheme was always designed as a test bed to prove that it was viable to build and operate turbines around the UK coastline and it has achieved that, as well as further UK offshore firsts, such as the replacement of a turbine blade at sea," says E.ON's Tony Cocker. E.ON is working to identify a solution to "armour" the cable to prevent damage recurring. Meantime, a project to repower the string of wind turbines installed in 1993 along the Blyth harbour wall could increase output by 650%. Owner Hainsford Energy is proposing replacement of the nine 300 kW Dutch WindMaster turbines with seven 2.5 MW machines: six along the East Pier, where the current turbines are sited and a "landmark turbine" on Battleship Wharf. The proposed machines are based on the Liberty turbine from American company Clipper, although Hainsford insists the make of turbine has not been finally selected. Clipper machines have as yet only been deployed in the US in limited numbers.

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