London Array: Where amazing happens

London Array

Today, in this special post I’m writing in English, I’d like to talk to you about the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the London Array, an offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary, in the United Kingdom. With 175 wind turbines, delivering a capacity of 630 MW, has enough power for nearly half a million UK homes a year. It was required to install nearly 450 km of offshore cabling, two offshore substations and one onshore substation.

This project has been feasible with the consortium of three world-leading renewable energy companies: DONG Energy (with a 50% project share), E.ON (with a 30% project share) and Masdar (with a 20% project share). So, as you can see, to create a partnership, combining experience and expertise, is the best way to achieve something unbelievable.

Offshore wind turbine

The London Array project was born in 2001, although it was in 2007 when all permissions were granted. As every Spaniard knows, bureaucracy takes time, sometimes too much. The project consists in two phases for achieving a capacity of 1000 MW (nowadays, only the first phase is finished). The first phase was begun in 2009, with the onshore substation, and in 2011, offshore construction started when the first foundation was installed. The first turbine was installed in January 2012, first power was achieved in October that year and the final turbine was installed in December 2012. The wind farm was inaugurated by the British Prime Minister David Cameron, on 4 July 2013. The Independence Day… Was it a coincidence? I don’t believe so much in coincidences. It’s the world’s largest offshore wind farm. And the world’s most powerful nation was a simple viewer.

As you may guess, working at sea is hard, but it is also really expensive. The foundation and turbine’s building requires huge floating cranes, loading component parts, for instance the turbine blades.

SeaWorker (top left), Matador 3 (top right) and Jan Leenheer (bottom)

Foundation install plan

Since March, when the first foundation was installed, another 175 foundations have been installed.   Two of these are the foundations for the offshore substations, which were installed in May 2011. The SeaWorker and Matador 3, a sheerleg crane barge, accompanied by the tug Jan Leenheer, installed the foundations and transition pieces for the offshore substations.

The project management was excellent. With the experience of these three giants in the renewable energy sector, the success was overwhelming. The schedule was on time every moment and the project cost was €2,200 million, as it was foreseen in planning phase. It’s true that it’s a really huge figure, but if you look into all the benefits that this wind farm brings with him, like CO2 savings of 925,000 tonnes a year or the creation of hundreds of jobs, the answer seems to be easy. We must be on the wind side.


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