The Sea Challenger, a jack-up ship specially designed for installing offshore wind turbines, set sail with towers, blades and nacelles from the newly-constructed harbour at the Siemens site in Hull, signalling the start of the first project for the new facility.
The components for four turbines were destined for the Dudgeon offshore wind farm off the Norfolk coast, which is 8-10 hours steaming time from the Humber estuary. The Sea Challenger carried 5,000 tonnes of components and associated equipment to Dudgeon in the first of many return voyages between the harbour and wind farm.
Siemens is using the Hull site and the harbour, which is built on land reclaimed from the Humber, as the pre-assembly and loadout hub for the Dudgeon wind farm. The project will involve towers, nacelles and blades being shipped into Hull to be brought together for Dudgeon.
The event is another major milestone for the Siemens development, coming just a month after production of the first of hundreds of blades to be manufactured every year at the factory which is the centerpiece of the site.
Over the next few months Siemens will supply 67 turbines to Dudgeon, which is a £1.5bn project to harness offshore wind to power more than 410,000 UK homes. Through the joint venture company Dudgeon Offshore Wind Limited, the 402MW offshore wind farm is owned by leading Norwegian energy companies Statoil and Statkraft and Masdar, an international investor in renewable energy and sustainable technology based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The wind farm is located 20 miles off the seaside town of Cromer in Norfolk and is scheduled to be completed and fully commissioned by late 2017.
Finbarr Dowling, Siemens’ Hull Project Director, said: “With the first loadout and shipment from our newly-constructed harbour we now have the core elements of a globally-unique offshore wind power hub all operational.
“It’s exciting to see our vision to develop a world-class hub for wind power manufacturing and logistics becoming a reality, with blade production ramping up in the factory and the new harbour busy with pre-assembly and loadout work.”
Barry Denness, Head of Port of Operations for Siemens in Hull, said: “This is the first of many offshore wind farms we will service from this site and it’s another great milestone.
“It’s the culmination of years of development, planning and preparation and the operation has all gone very smoothly. It’s fantastic to see the Sea Challenger sail up the Humber, with the first turbines loaded out from this site, and really exciting for everyone who has been involved in making this happen.”
The landmark moment made for a dramatic sight as the huge, 14,400 tonnes Sea Challenger lowered itself into the water and steamed up the Humber watched by Siemens’ offshore personnel.
The Sea Challenger is owned by A2SEA, which maintains and operates some of the offshore wind industry’s most sophisticated vessels and equipment specially designed for turbine installation.
The first loadout from Hull will be followed soon by delivery of the first blades manufactured at the factory on the site. From May these will be shipped with other components to DONG Energy’s Race Bank wind farm off the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coast.
Siemens and partner Associated British Ports have invested £310m to create world class and world scale wind power manufacturing and logistics operations at Alexandra Dock in Hull.
The Siemens site in Hull will employ 1,000 people once it is fully operational later this year. It is one of Siemens’ largest investments worldwide in manufacturing facilities and is Hull’s biggest-ever inward investment.