Work is under way today on the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC), the wind farm that is the subject of an ongoing public feud with American billionaire developer Donald Trump.
Supporters believe that once operational, the Centre will lead to pioneering turbine foundation designs being developed at the more than £230million test facility.
The EOWDC is a joint venture between Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) and Vattenfall, which is a member of the Carbon Trust’s OWA, along with Technip Offshore Wind as a consortium partner.
Last month, the Scottish Government approved consent for the project which has also been awarded up to €40 million of European funding.
The programme involves a series of geotechnical boreholes being performed between 2.5km and 4km off Aberdeen’s coast including drilling work to validate the findings of desk top research. The work is being carried out by Fugro Geoconsulting Limited with the geotechnical drilling vessel M/V Markab.
Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Ltd, the company driving forward the EOWDC, commissioned the work which is being supported by The Carbon Trust’s flagship research and development scheme, the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA).
“This is an exciting development for the project," said Iain Todd, a spokesman for the project. "As a result of discussions with The Carbon Trust, we are investigating the potential to demonstrate innovative foundation designs emerging from the OWA initiative including gravity-based foundations, twisted jackets and suction buckets."
He continued: “The geotechnical surveys, which are being conducted as part of the overall development process, will help us gain a further understanding of what is under the seabed and enable us to progress with foundation type selection and design.
"The opportunity to incorporate next generation foundations into the EOWDC would further enhance the scheme’s position as an industry-leading centre for accelerating the development of offshore wind and associated technology and innovations,” Todd said.
The OWA is a collaborative initiative which brings together nine offshore wind developers in a joint industry project aimed at working towards reducing the cost of offshore wind by at least 10 percent by 2015.
Phil de Villiers, head of Offshore Wind at the Carbon Trust, described the EOWDC as a tremendous opportunity for the industry to demonstrate novel foundations tailored for deeper waters.
"The geotechnical investigations will allow innovative designs to be selected that push right up to the limits of what is technically feasible at the site. The new designs have tremendous potential to drive down the cost of offshore wind, and demonstration at EOWDC will show they are ready for commercial use,” de Villiers said.
As part of the geotechnical surveys, which are expected to run for about 10 days, a geotechnical drilling vessel will be mobilised and the work will include sampling and in situ testing in boreholes at four of the 11 proposed turbine locations in water depths ranging from around 22 metres to 30 metres.
The EOWDC is a cutting-edge demonstration facility for up to 11 turbines and associated technology which, with expected capital expenditure of more than £230 million, would prove to be a major investment in Scotland’s renewables infrastructure and a vital boost to its offshore wind ambitions.
Welcoming news that works on the Centre has gotten underway, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said, “Donald Trump will probably spill his coffee when he hears that investigation work has begun on this offshore wind test facility. Despite his bluster, it’s clear that Scotland has no intention of being held back in its renewables ambitions by the threat of his legal challenge.
“Giving the go-ahead to this development was the right decision, demonstrating that Scotland is serious about becoming a cleaner, greener, job-creating nation. The test facility will give Scotland the opportunity to tap into the huge wind resource around our coastline and potentially lead the world on offshore renewable technologies," Banks said.