OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY
Article by SeaScape Energy Ltd
SeaScape Energy Ltd
SeaScape Energy Ltd is proposing a site in Liverpool Bay-Burbo Bank at the entrance to the River Mersey. Burbo Bank is exposed to the full force of the wind from the Irish Sea and its shifting sands were once feared by storm driven sailing ships. These selfsame winds and shallow waters now make it an ideal location for offshore wind turbines, a location that will become a flagship for an exciting new industry in Merseyside.
The Burbo location was selected after a careful process of environmental screening. Now the location has been confirmed by the announcement, we will be opening discussions and consultations with stakeholders and the public as part of the process of preparing our Environmental Statement and application for consent. It is still very early days and many of our ideas for the project are at an embryonic stage.
However, it is likely that it will contain 30 turbines, each capable of producing a maximum power output of at least 2MW. The turbines will have three blades, each around 35m long and mounted on top of a slender tower approximately 70m high. The turbines will be mounted on steel tube (monopile) foundations driven into the seabed. The power they produce will be transmitted to the shore through buried cables. The nearest turbine to the land will be at least 5km from the coast, which means that they will appear as tiny matchstick figures on the horizon. We expect that the project planning, environmental studies and consenting process will take at least two years, so construction could start early in 2004 and be completed before the end of that year.
Globally, wind energy is a rapidly growing industry and last year the total capacity was increased by 30%. At present, the market is dominated by land-based projects, but many countries are now starting to develop offshore locations as well. Plans are well advanced for large projects in Denmark, Sweden, Holland and Germany and now the UK. There is already a 20 turbine offshore windfarm in operation close to Copenhagen and a 75-turbine project will be installed in the Danish North Sea by the end of next year.
To date, the UK has largely missed out on this new market and currently we only have one small offshore wind energy project at Blyth in Northumberland (www.blyth-offshore.co.uk). This position is set to change with the development of these new offshore wind energy proposals, and with such excellent potential on its doorstep, Liverpool has the opportunity to be at the centre of this new industry.
The installation of offshore wind energy requires just the type of facilities and skills that are available in the shipyards and engineering companies that line the Mersey. Offshore wind energy has the potential to provide further diversification and growth for these resilient companies that have done so much to keep alive the industrial heart of Merseyside.
Useful web sites with photographs and more background information: