The UK’s only manufacturer of subsea cables, JDR, won praise from prime minister David Cameron this week after it announced its first contract to supply an offshore wind project beyond UK waters, the 288MW Meerwind Süd/Ost project in Germany’s North Sea.
The contract to supply inter array cables for Meerwind is “just the beginning of a significant period of growth,” according to JDR chief executive, Andrew Norman. The company recently invested £30m (€36m) to expand and upgrade its Hartlepool production facility.
Windpower Offshore understands that JDR recently submitted a string of bids for other European offshore wind contracts, and at least one bid for a project further afield.
JDR’s first foray into offshore wind came in 2005, when it supplied 33kV cables for the two-turbine Beatrice demonstration project in waters off northern Scotland. Its next success was a much bigger contract, the supply of more than 200km of cabling for the 504MW Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm.
More recently, JDR produced 200km of 33kV cabling for the 630MW London Array offshore wind farm, currently under construction.
While the Meerwind Süd/Ost contract has won JDR considerable publicity, a smaller commission announced in May is also noteworthy. This was JDR’s first contract to supply an offshore wind export cable. Production of the 12km export cable and associated inter array cables for Dong Energy’s Gunfleet Sands 3 two-turbine demonstration project has been completed, said John Price, JDR’s business development manager.
Investment in HV equipment
JDR’s initial success in the offshore wind market prompted its shareholders, private equity firm Vision Capital, to sanction a £30m expansion plan. Funds were used to increase production capacity and to ensure the company will be capable of supplying high voltage alternating current (HVAC) cables. The upgraded facility was unveiled in April.
A £2m grant from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) was part of the recent investment programme, and was designed to support JDR’s HVAC ambitions. “The equipment for HVAC production is now in place,” Price told Windpower Offshore. With the necessary machinery on site, the next step is to calibrate, test and certify it.
Certifying its equipment for HVAC production is not urgent, however, due to recent slow progress of many UK Round 3 projects, added Price.