This week, I had the privilege of taking a helicopter ride over Orsted’s newly-opened offshore wind farm – Race Bank (you may have seen the excitable social media posts).
At Utility Week, we write about offshore wind farms often, so it was fascinating to get up-close and personal with one. As part of the trip, laid on to coincide with the official opening of the wind farm, I also took a tour of the purpose-built, and very orange, service operational vessel.
— Lois Vallely (@LoisVallely) June 13, 2018
Where is Race Bank?
I learned many interesting facts throughout the day. These are just a few:
1 – It is the first wind farm Orsted has launched since it changed its name from Dong Energy
This is a fact Orsted managing director Matthew Wright told me proudly, as we hovered 1,000 feet above Race Bank.
Orsted changed its name and branding from Dong (an acronym for Danish Oil and Natural Gas) in October last year, to reflect its shift from “black to green energy”.
The new name is after Danish professor Hans Christian Orsted, who discovered electromagnetism in 1820.
2 – It is the fifth biggest offshore wind farm in the world
Race Bank covers an area of 75km 2. In layman’s terms (and in the spirit of the World Cup) that is equal to 10,500 football pitches.
The total capacity of the wind farm is 573MW, which is enough to power more than half a million UK homes.
3 – It holds the record for “the world’s fastest Siemens Gamesea 6MW turbine installation”
The multi-million-pound project was constructed on time and on budget.
It took 4.2 million staff hours (both Orsted and the supplier) to construct. It is expected to be operational for 25 years.
The first foundation was installed in July 2016, and the farm was commissioned in February 2018.
4 – One turbine can power an average household for 24 hours
A single rotation of the blades of one turbine will power an average household for 24 hours, and there are 91 turbines at Race Bank.
The blades are handcrafted in Hull, and are picked for the closest match in characteristics, since they are handmade, to avoid any being out of balance.
A single blade is 75 metres (or 246 feet). To put this in perspective, it is as big as an Airbus’s total wingspan, and weighs 26 tonnes.
5 – It is the first wind farm to use a service operational vessel
Up until now, transport to and from wind farms has been done by crew transfer vessels and, for longer distances, helicopters have been used.
Race Bank is the first wind farm to use a purpose-built vessel – which is a bit like a hotel, warehouse and workshop all rolled into one. The vessel remains offshore, with technicians working shifts of 14 days on and 14 days off, and I can personally account for the fact that the cabins, canteen, games room and lounge look pretty luxurious.
Each turbine has a coffee machine in it.
— Ørsted UK (@OrstedUK) June 13, 2018
— Lois Vallely (@LoisVallely) June 12, 2018