The new multi-million pound facility will be built in the Royal Docks in Grimsby and will serve the Westermost Rough, Race Bank and Hornsea Project One wind farms to begin with. It will also have the capacity to support other east coast projects being planned by the Danish firm.
“This new operational hub in Grimsby will be a game-changing industry first, raising the bar for the way we serve offshore wind farms,” said Dong Energy’s UK chairman Brent Cheshire.
“It represents a massive vote of confidence to the UK offshore wind industry and confirms our commitment to the Humber region where by 2019 we expect to have invested around £6 billion.”
The hub will sit alongside the existing operations and maintenance facility for the Westermost Rough wind farm, on land still to be leased from Associated British Ports. It will feature a marine and helicopter coordination centre “capable of providing 24-7 service to offshore operations across the UK and beyond”, as well as a warehouse for storing components.
It will be used by “state-of-the-art” Rolls-Royce-designed service vessels, which Dong has chartered from Norwegian shipping company Ostensjo Rederi. The “bespoke” ships will accommodate up to 60 crew and technicians and will be able to stay out at a sea for up to 28 days in a row – servicing six to eight turbines each day. An “innovative motion-compensated gangway” will allow the crew to get access to the turbines without having to climb up and down access ladders.
The first ship is scheduled to arrive late next year and will initially be set to work supporting the 580MW Race Bank wind farm, which Dong is building off the coast of Norfolk and Lincolnshire. The company said it expects the vessels to “set the blueprint for the way in which offshore wind farms are maintained in future”.
The announcement follows its decision in August to cut its involvement in a £450 million offshore wind hub port which Able UK is planning to build at Immingham in the Humber estuary. Dong said the Able Marine Energy Park would not built soon enough to support any of its planned projects.
It also highlighted the findings of a government review of the port, which concluded there was “little evidence” it would cut the cost offshore wind projects. Dong said it concluded that “current ports can support demand from the anticipated offshore wind project pipeline” and that “it would be difficult to justify the scale of investment required”.