Dong's Westermost Rough first in line for Siemens 6MW roll out

Danish offshore wind giant Dong Energy is likely to carry out its first full-scale deployment of Siemens 6MW turbines under its landmark 1.8GW framework deal at the Westermost Rough project in the Wash, UK development director Jesper Holst tells Recharge.

Dong is currently installing two prototype direct-drive machines at an extension of its Gunfleet Sands wind farm, with commissioning set to take place at the end of this year or early 2013.

Dong signed a framework agreement to buy 300 of Siemens’ new offshore turbines on 19 July for the 2014-2017 period, in one of the wind equipment market's biggest ever deals.

The company received planning permission for Westermost Rough – which has a nameplate capacity of 240MW off the eastern England coast – in November.

It is now in a planning and pre construction phase, with a final investment decision due to be made by the end of the year. That would allow offshore construction of the project to begin in 2014.

After Westernmost Rough, the most likely destinations for the Siemens turbines are the “Round Two-and-a-Half” extensions to the Burbo and Walney wind farms, which at 234MW and 750MW are giant projects in their own right.

Under the terms of Dong’s lease agreements with The Crown Estate, both extensions have to be completed by 2016. Dong is planning to submit consent applications for Burbo by the end of 2012 and for Walney in early 2013.

The other possible Round 2 destination for the 6MW turbines is the second 370MW phase of the London Array project, although a consent application has not been made, and talks continue between partners Dong, E.ON and Masdar, and The Crown Estate over wildlife issues that affect the remaining part of the zone.

Further ahead are Dong’s Round 3 projects. The company bought 33.3% of the first 1GW to be developed in the 4GW Hornsea zone in December from the SmartWind consortium – made up of Siemens Project Ventures and Mainstream Renewable Power.

The 500MW-a-piece Heron and Njord wind farms are among the most advanced of the Round 3 projects, and the consortium expects consent applications to be submitted in the early part of the first quarter of 2013.

Dong also has 50% of the 4.2GW Irish Sea zone along with partner Centrica, although development of the zone will take place more slowly than in Hornsea.

The two companies are carrying out “early consenting work” says Holst, and have just submitted a scoping report – the first step in the planning process – for the first 2.2GW project, called Rihannon Wind Farm. Construction is likely to take place in the Irish Sea starting in 2016/17 and “continuing in the years onwards,” says Holst.

In total, Dong has a UK development pipeline of 4-5GW of capacity in the UK, meaning that its mid-term turbine appetite goes beyond the latest deal with Siemens.

Holst points out that although the Siemens deal provides it with some comfort that turbines will be available for its nearer-term projects, it is by no means excluding working with other manufacturers.

“We have a strong collaboration with Vestas as well, and we are quite keen to test their (7MW V164) turbine,” says Holst. “Also with EDF in France we are working with Alstom, so we are not locked-in exclusively with Siemens.”