First power has been achieved at EDF's 62MW Teesside wind farm, off England's north east coast. Three of the 27 Siemens 2.3MW turbines that will power the project are feeding electricity into the grid.
Teesside is the last remaining offshore wind farm from the UK's first tender round to be built. Thus far, 18 of the wind farm's 27 turbines have been installed, with MPI Adventure deployed on the job.
Commenting on the achievement of first power, EDF Energy Renewables UK chief executive, Christian Egal, told Windpower Offshore that the company "began working on Teesside ten years ago, with the design completed eight years ago. All Round 1 projects were less than 100MW in capacity. Of course, now we are in the process of developing much larger projects."
Teesside's progress was hampered by slow permitting, and its construction has been delayed, at times, due to equipment failures. But the end is now in sight, with full power not far off.
"Planning consent was challenged, so we lost a year to judicial review," explained Egal, reflecting on the lengthy effort to bring Teesside to fruition. Another complication was the way in which timing of final regulatory consent coincided with economic uncertainty. "Consent was granted in 2008, but this was a difficult year for project finance and it took us time to proceed to the construction phase," said Egal.
EDF also owns a 50% stake in the 1.1GW Navitus Bay project and, in France, the company is leading a series of consortia that will build three 500MW offshore wind farms. It is expected to bid for additional projects during France’s ongoing second tender.
EDF bid for UK Round 2 and 3 projects, but was not awarded any. This prompted the company to explore the option of partnering with a developer that had been more successful. "The partnership between Eneco and EDF has demonstrated a good fit. Navitus Bay is aligned with our strategy to develop gradually larger projects, step by step, and is similar to the projects we’re developing in France," explained Egal. "We are working on offshore wind projects that are of a medium size in order to learn with each project and not to go too fast."
The 1.1GW Navitus Bay project has made headlines in the UK mainstream press thanks to protests for and against the offshore wind farm. Egal acknowledged that visual impacts are an issue of public contention for some. "The project team takes visual impacts very seriously and has engaged with all parties," he said. A revision to the project design was announced late last year and included a significant reduction in the number of turbines and an increase in the project's distance from the Dorset coast.
Submission of a consent application for Navitus Bay is currently scheduled for 2014. If regulatory approval is issued without delay, the project is scheduled for construction during 2017-2019.
Asked whether EDF is looking to invest in more offshore wind projects, beyond Navitus Bayand those in France, Egal offered a qualified no. "So far in the UK we don't have plans to build anything else in the UK between Teesside and Navitus Bay, but never say never. If there is an opportunity we may consider it. But we have no target in terms of the number of offshore wind projects or capacity that we should build. There is no pressure from the group or shareholders to increase the number."