A massive clean-energy milestone in the English Channel

First turbine installed for Rampion Offshore Wind Project

One down, 115 to go.

Last week, the Rampion Offshore Wind Project passed an important milestone—the installation of its first turbine in the English Channel.

Rampion, a 400-megawatt (MW) project, is being co-developed by European electric utility E.ON, the UK Green Investment Bank plc, and Enbridge—and is expected to be complete and fully operational in 2018.

This 116-turbine wind farm, based 13 kilometres off the Sussex coast of England, represents Enbridge’s first foray into offshore wind energy production.

How are turbines installed in an offshore wind farm? The task is almost as massive as the giant turbines themselves.

Crews on the MPI Discovery—a special watercraft with a self-elevating platform, and known as a “jack-up vessel”—are now regularly leaving Esbjerg, Denmark for the Rampion site with all the components for eight turbines, which stand 460 feet tall to the tip of the blades.

At each turbine location:

  • The 260-foot-high, 200-tonne tower—weighing as much as 26 African bull elephants—is lifted, positioned and bolted to the foundation;
  • The nacelle, which includes the generator and gear box, is lifted and fitted on to the tower; and
  • Each of the three 180-foot-long blades, measuring more than half the length of a football field, is hoisted and connected one at a time.

All of it within 24 hours. And then it’s off to the next location.

“The first turbine is a powerful symbol of the engineering achievement that Rampion and other offshore wind farms represent,” says Chris Tomlinson, Rampion’s Development and Stakeholder Manager. “After seven years of planning, development and initial construction, we are especially proud to have reached this major milestone, which will see the Rampion project really begin to take shape.”

A second vessel, the MPI Adventure, will join the installation process in June.

“Over the coming months, the 116 turbines will gradually be installed as we work towards the first generation of electricity later in the year,” says Tomlinson.

Onshore and offshore electrical work is also being performed over the next several months.

Once in operation, Rampion will provide enough renewable power to meet the electrical needs of nearly 347,000 homes—equal to about half the homes in Sussex.

(TOP PHOTO: Crews on the jack-up vessel MPI Discovery install Rampion Offshore Wind Project's first turbine during the week of March 6, 2017.)