UK content has long been an issue in offshore windfarms but at least half of the value of one of the largest projects now being implemented should fall to UK companies
At the end of August 2018, innogy confirmed it has completed financing for the Triton Knoll offshore windfarm in the UK, that MHI Vestas is to provide the turbines, Able Seaton Port will lead turbine construction and Grimsby is the target for a long-term operations base.
In a statement, innogy said all debt required for the project has been committed by the project lenders, an investment that amounts to approximately £2.0Bn (US$2.6Bn). The project got under way in September when work started on constructing the onshore electrical system.
The required investment will be provided by international commercial lenders including a consortium of 15 banks who are providing around £1.751Bn of debt facilities, securing the realisation of the 860-MW offshore windfarm, located 20 miles off the coast of Lincolnshire.
innogy chief operating office renewables Hans Bünting said, “By reaching financial close we have created the financial foundation for realising Triton Knoll jointly with our new equity partners and international lenders.”
A 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) has also been agreed with Ørsted, under which the company will offtake 100% of the power produced by Triton Knoll windfarm. The PPA complements Triton Knoll’s contracts for difference, mitigating any market price uncertainty for the first 15 years of the windfarm’s operation. Both parties to the deal have agreed to maintain confidentiality regarding the terms of the PPA.
In mid-August, innogy confirmed two new partners with whom it will take Triton Knoll forward, in line with the company’s strategy of growing its renewables portfolio through partnerships. J-Power will take a 25% share, and Kansai Electric Power a 16% share, while innogy retains the majority equity stake of 59% and will manage the construction, operation and maintenance works on behalf of the project partners.
Triton Knoll has placed orders with MHI Vestas Offshore Wind to provide the project with 90 of its V164-9.5 MW turbines. The company will establish a full-scale turbine pre-assembly operation at Able UK’s Seaton Port in Teesside, from enabling works to loadout. It is anticipated that the port activity involving all partners could create around 100 new, predominately local jobs and unlock over £16M investment in new infrastructure and equipment.
Triton Knoll has also agreed a memorandum of understanding with ABP to use its Grimsby facility as the windfarm’s long-term operations and maintenance (O&M) base. Studies estimate the O&M work has the potential to support up to 170 direct and indirect long-term jobs.
Triton Knoll project director Julian Garnsey said “This is a great moment for Triton Knoll and the UK offshore wind industry as we formally secure the means to deliver around £2Bn of new UK energy infrastructure. Triton Knoll expects to deliver at least 50% of our investment with UK firms over the project’s lifecycle and at the height of construction we expect to see over 3,000 people working on the project.
“We are delighted to be expanding the project’s UK footprint with MHI Vestas and these two east coast ports. The subsequent investment in Able UK’s Seaton port facility represents a great opportunity to enhance offshore wind port facilities within the Northern Powerhouse region.”
Able UK will develop an additional 140 m of new heavy-duty quayside at the port and invest in equipment and facilities to support delivery of Triton Knoll. It said the investment will help the port become a competitive force within the offshore sector and provide considerable opportunities for the local supply chain.
Able UK’s executive chairman Peter Stephenson said, “We have enjoyed a long and constructive relationship with Triton Knoll. It is a massive vote of confidence in the UK, us and the Teesside supply chain. Our sustained investment means we can provide a bespoke and tailor-made solution for Triton Knoll.
“This contract effectively completes Able’s offshore wind CV and is very much the start of something that will continue to grow. Government policy supports further growth in the offshore wind sector, with some of that potential on our doorstep, such as innogy’s Sofia project. However, we do not take things for granted and our first and most important task is to ensure the successful and efficient execution of this exciting project.”
Seaway Heavy Lifting was awarded a contract to transport and install 90 foundations and two offshore substations. Offshore installation activity will be executed in 2020 using Seaway Heavy Lifting’s crane vessel, Stanislav Yudin. GeoSea, DEME’s offshore marine engineering specialist, has been awarded a contract to transport and install the turbines.
Royal Boskalis Westminster has been awarded a contract for suppling and installing the export and inter-array cables for Triton Knoll, having signed a preferred supplier agreement in September 2017. The scope includes two 50-km export cables and 97 66-kV inter-array cables which will be installed with two cable-laying vessels owned by the company. The project will be executed by Boskalis Subsea Cables & Flexibles in consortium with NKT and is due to be carried out in 2020.
As highlighted above, onshore construction got under way in September in Lincolnshire with work on the electrical system to transmit power from the windfarm. The official ‘breaking-of-ground’ took place directly on the route of the new high voltage underground export cable, located at the main onshore cable site offices off the A16 near Stickney. UK firms J Murphy & Sons Ltd and Siemens Transmission and Distribution Ltd (STDL) have been contracted to carry out this part of the project. Mr Garnsey said innogy was committed to supporting local and regional jobs and skills development.
Onshore construction presents some significant engineering challenges as innogy and its contractors install more than 57 km of underground electrical export cable below ground. The route starts at the landfall location north of Anderby Creek, where the onshore and offshore cables connect. It runs to a new substation being constructed near Bicker, and then to the existing National Grid Bicker Fen substation where the electricity from the offshore windfarm will ultimately connect into the grid. More than 300 individual directional drills – a record for a UK infrastructure project – will ensure the onshore cables can be installed without obstructing any roads, highways, rivers or drains.
Murphy chief executive John Murphy said, “The cable route presents an exciting engineering challenge for us and we’ve worked diligently and intelligently to create better engineered solutions that will allow us deliver it with minimum disruption.”
Work on the onshore substation will start early in 2019, with Siemens constructing a new facility close to the existing electrical substation near Bicker. Work is already underway to construct a new ‘bellmouth’ entry point and 3.8-km access road to the new substation construction site to ensure construction traffic can avoid using smaller local roads. STDL project director Phil Manley said the main offshore work will begin in 2019.
Triton Knoll has committed to delivering at least 50% UK content through the construction and operation of the windfarm, and onshore construction presents one of the most significant opportunities for local firms to benefit from the project’s investment. Murphy and STDL have already engaged local companies in preparation for the construction start and are seeking local and regional companies to further support their work.
innogy said the horizontal directional drilling programme was due to get underway in Q4 2018, with onshore cable installation from Q2 2019. Offshore horizontal directional drilling is due to take place from March to May 2019 with the cable route work completed by Q3 2020. The onshore substation construction is due to get under way in February 2019 with commissioning work in 2020. First generation from the offshore windfarm is expected in 2021.