Three onshore plots for testing offshore wind turbines will be built at the Port of Hunterston in south-west Scotland, it was announced this week. Two of the three plots will be managed by SSE, with Siemens and Mitsubishi already named as the manufacturers that will use the facilities.
SSE is part of consortia with the rights to develop two Round 3 offshore wind zones; the 9-12GW Dogger Bank and the 3.4GW Firth of Forth. The utility will invest £15m in Hunterston and is likely to have earmarked the two plots as part of its process of assessing turbine performance, in the run-up to turbine purchase decisions for one or both of these development zones.
Mitsubishi will use Hunterston to put its 7MW Sea Angel design through its paces. This will be the first prototype test of the 7MW machine and will follow an onshore test in Yokohama, Japan, of a scaled-down 2.4MW turbine boasting many of the same electronic components that will be used in the 7MW Sea Angel.
Siemens declined to confirm to Windpower Offshore which of its turbine designs it will test at Hunterston. Siemens has recently begun the first onshore test of its 6MW turbine with a 154m rotor, at Denmark’s new national turbine test centre, at Østerild. It could choose to test this at Hunterston as well, or, perhaps, its planned 4MW upgrade of its existing 3.6MW machine. A pair of Siemens 6MW turbines with 120m rotors will also be tested at Gunfleet Sands 3, from 2013.
Gemini offshore wind farm, planned for Dutch waters, will boast 150 of the 4MW turbines, as recently reported by Windpower Offshore.
The third test plot will be managed by Scottish Enterprise, which is investing £4.3m. It will lease the plot to manufacturers with "firm plans to invest in the Scottish off-shore wind supply chain".
Civil engineering at the site will begin this autumn with the first turbines installed by late 2013.