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News from the UK Power Industry 30th April 2019

Posted by: James Turner
Industry News

Hornsea 2 Windfarm cable contract awarded

Ørsted Wind Power has awarded a contract for the installation of 380km of export cables for the Hornsea 2 offshore windfarm in the UK.

The contract was awarded to Royal Boskalis Westminster. The project scope includes the preparation of the offshore export cable route (geophysical survey, boulder clearance and seabed levelling through dredging), and the installation and protection of the cables.

The three 130km long export cables will connect the offshore substation to the onshore substation by means of 300m of horizontal directional drilling, crossing the sea defence at Horseshoe Point on the east coast of the UK. The project is expected to commence later this year with a planned completion late 2021.

Boskalis said it aims to maximize UK local content for its scope of work and will deploy a range of specialist services and assets including a trailing suction hopper dredger, geophysical survey vessel and multiple cable-laying vessels.

Boskalis has also invested in a new multi-mode plough for pre-lay trenching and backfilling. The plough is built for a continuous pull of 200 tonnes, is capable of trenching at a range of depths and in a wide range of soils with minimal environmental impact. The plough will be pulled by the construction vessel Boka Falcon.

Hornsea 2 will consist of up to 165 turbines with a maximum capacity of 1.4 GW and is located approximately 90km off the Yorkshire coast. Full story.

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Offshore Wind: the key to cutting energy emissions

Offshore wind could be the answer to cutting the UK’s energy emissions, according to Financial Times Energy Correspondent Nathalie Thomas. 

The Committee on Climate Change, is set to publish publish advice this week on whether the country should adopt a target of net zero emissions. Britain’s 2,000 plus offshore wind turbines are likely to come to the fore and Thomas argues that they are the answer. 

“Rapid advances in the design and engineering of turbines have helped reduce costs, with turbines getting bigger and better,” Thomas explains. “More powerful machines mean fewer turbines to serve the same number of homes, cutting down dramatically on installation and maintenance costs.”

The technology is developing rapidly. According to Siemens Gamesa, a 10MW model will be in the UK “in the mid-2020s”, while some in the industry are betting on future machines reaching 15MW. 

Turbines have also become more sophisticated and suited to harsh marine environments, further slashing maintenance and repair costs, thanks to big changes in the early part of the decade when machines designed truly for offshore conditions became available. They are now controlled remotely, cutting down on vessels going out to sea, while sensors amass vast amounts of data, allowing operators to predict problems before they arise. 

“For cost reductions to continue, developers insist government support must also remain. The certainty of a government contract remains critical for investors,” Thomas said.

Paul Cooley, director of capital projects at SSE Renewables, said: “Whilst the industry has achieved significant cost reductions, the CfD [government auction] remains critical to de-risking offshore investment by stabilising uncertain revenues over the long-term, enabling access to lower costs of capital.” Full story.

How UK energy would battle a no-deal Brexit

The Brexit picture is still unclear, with no-deal still on the table. Flogas Britain has provided insight into how the UK power industry would adapt to such an eventuality. Flogas explains that there are two main areas to consider: the current and future state of the UK’s gas supply, and the laws and regulations governing how energy is sources and used.

"Energy law: As an EU member state, the UK is currently subject to EU energy laws. These provide a Europe-wide framework around energy security and supply, as well as energy efficiency and safety – and there will be a change in the legislation applying to the UK if we do see a no-deal Brexit.”

“In the event of a no-deal situation, EU energy law will cease to apply to the UK from 29 March 2019. There will be some changes to licensing and industry codes of practice to ensure they’re still valid. Interconnector owners and operators will need to engage with the relevant EU regulators to ensure approved access rules are in place and to understand any changes to certifications. Support from Ofgem (and the Utility Regulator for Northern Ireland) will be available for interconnectors during this process.”

Flogas also discusses energy supply in the event of a no-deal: “The big question around gas supply and Brexit is whether the UK will be able to import gas as it does now. Fundamentally, the mechanisms of cross-border gas trade aren’t expected to change – even in the event of a no-deal scenario.

“In the absence of a deal there will be some implications to the way gas is traded with the EU’s 27 member states. As such, the government is advising interconnectors, code administrators and UK gas market participants to carry out contingency planning for a no-deal scenario.” Full story.

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