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Piling work completed on Moray East offshore wind farm

By Alan Hendry

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The jack-up installation vessel Apollo in the Cromarty Firth.
The jack-up installation vessel Apollo in the Cromarty Firth.

Moray East has announced the completion of piling work on its 950MW offshore wind farm.

Work to install the pin piles in the seabed began in May last year, using the jack-up installation vessel Apollo which worked out of Cromarty Firth Port Authority’s onshore handling facilities at Invergordon.

The offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth will consist of 100 turbines and three offshore substation platforms. It is being installed in deeper water than most existing UK wind farms, necessitating the use of three-legged jacket structures for each turbine and substation platform.

Three pin piles are therefore required at the site of each turbine and substation platform, giving a total of 309.

Project director Marcel Sunier said: “The important first phase of offshore installation work has been completed safely and successfully without any major incidents. I would like to thank all those involved, including our contractors, our suppliers, our local port facilities at Invergordon and the authorities.

“Although the piles are undersea, underground and unseen, they are the foundations on which the entire project’s success literally rests. The challenge of accurately driving 309 piles into the seabed, in water depths of around 50m, more than 20km from shore in Scottish weather, cannot be overstated.

“The dynamics that make the Moray Firth a more challenging location for installation are the same dynamics which enable us to deliver a high volume of electricity at a record low price. The experience and expertise developed working in this challenging environment are vital resources for the UK’s journey to net zero.

“I look forward to the next stages of the project which will see the jackets and various turbine components begin to be marshalled at Nigg and Invergordon prior to their installation as well as the installation of the three offshore substations, the inter array cables and the offshore export cable."

The wind farm will be 22km from shore at its closest point and will provide enough power for approximately 950,000 homes.

It is being developed by Moray Offshore Windfarm East Ltd (MOWEL), a joint venture company owned by Diamond Green Limited (33.4 per cent), EDPR (33.3 per cent), ENGIE (23.3 per cent) and CTG (10 per cent).

It won a Contract for Difference (CfD) award in 2017 and reached financial close the following year.

The total investment from the Moray East project across the two Easter Ross ports is expected to be more than £100 million.

The project is expected to produce first power in 2021, with construction completed in 2022.

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