The Rampion offshore wind farm saw the installation of it’s 166th and final turbine this morning in an act that marks the successful completion of this stage of the development. Electricity will start to be generated later this year, and the farm is due to be fully operational in 2018.
Each turbine consists of an 80 metre tower, weighing around 200 tonnes, which has had to be lifted and positioned onto each foundation, a nacelle, fitted to the top of each tower, housing the generator and gearbox and three blades, each measuring 55 metres in length which have been hoisted and connected one at a time.
Over the last six months, since the first turbine was installed in early March, the two vessels responsible for the logistical requirements of the instillation – the MPI Discovery and MPI Adventure – have worked tirelessly to install each turbine, transporting the components for eight turbines at a time from Esbjerg in Denmark to the site 13 kilometres off the Sussex coast.
Chris Tomlinson, Development and Stakeholder Manager for the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, said: “We’re especially proud to have achieved this remarkable feat, installing all 116 turbines ahead of schedule in just over six months.
“This major milestone sees the safe installation of all physical components visible above sea level, representing the full extent of the wind farm.
“Since the spring we have also completed the lay and burial of 112 kilometres of array cables, which connects the turbines to the offshore substation, installed in April, before transporting power to shore.
““We now look forward to Rampion’s first generation of electricity later this year and to working towards completion and full operation in 2018.”
The wind farm’s installation has been met with mixed reviews. Many complain that the project has spoiled their previously uninterrupted view of the horizon as it stretches out into the channel, whilst many see the project as an emblem of the kind of progress sorely needed by an energy sector that is being forced to acknowledge the need to find more renewable and sustainable means of generating the electricity that powers our everyday lives.
I spoke to one resident of Brighton whose view of the wind farm is a repeated cause for disgruntlement:
“They’re just ugly aren’t they? We used to be able to see all the way out to the horizon and now we have a pretty much permanent view of these horrors.”
Many I interviewed, though, had a more positive and progressive outlook on the project. Lots of respondents expressed an affection for the wind farm’s aesthetic, hailing it as a triumph of modern sustainable engineering and as an emblem of hope for a less polluted world.
“Those people complaining about eye sores should focus their attention in the i360, it’s like a honking great chimney stack! The wind farm is pretty elegant in comparison isn’t it?”
Whichever side of this aesthetic divide you find yourself upon, the relative merits of this project surely outweigh the criticisms waged at it.
Tours of the farm are now underway from the Marina for those interested in a more up close and personal view of the project that is now moving into the next phase of it’s installation that will see the farm tested and connected to around 400,000 homes along the Sussex coast.