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RWE boosts UK dockyards with Gwynt y Mor wind contracts

RWE has signed contracts with the Port of Mostyn and the Cammell Laird shipyard for the construction and maintenance of its €2bn ($2.7bn) Gwynt y Mor project, giving a major boost to the western UK’s offshore wind ambitions.

The German utility has chosen the Port of Mostyn, which lies on the estuary of the River Dee in North Wales, to act as the operations and maintenance base for the 576MW Gwynt y Mor, in a deal expected to be worth more than £50m ($77.2m) over the project’s lifetime.

RWE intends to build a new operational base at Mostyn, where it will manage Gwynt y Mor as well as the nearby 90MW Rhyl Flats and 60MW North Hoyle projects.

The choice of Mostyn – which acted as the onshore construction base for Rhyl Flats and North Hoyle – was widely expected.

More surprising is its arrangement with the Cammell Laird shipyard, whose quayside facilities in Birkenhead – across the River Mersey from Liverpool – will allow RWE to load and fit-out the 160 monopile foundations that will be used at Gwynt y Mor.

Those foundations, which will be among the largest monopiles ever used at an offshore wind farm, are being designed and manufactured by a consortium comprising Denmark’s Bladt Industries and Germany’s EEW Special Pipe Construction.

The three-year contract with Cammell Laird – expected to be worth more than £5m, including £1m of already-committed steel fabrication work – represents the first foray into offshore wind for an historic British shipyard that has fallen on hard times in recent decades.

Founded in 1828, Cammell Laird launched more than 1,000 vessels into the River Mersey from its beginnings through World War II.

In the 1970s and 1980s it was nationalised and then re-privatised, before stumbling into receivership in 2001. Its assets were eventually sold to rival Northwestern Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders, which assumed the well-known name of Cammell Laird in 2008 – and has since secured several major Ministry of Defence contracts.

Gwynt y Mor is “an immensely important contract for us to sign”, says Cammell Laird chief executive John Syvret, adding that it “catapults” the shipyard into the offshore renewables market.

Onshore works commenced in 2009 for Gwynt y Mor, whose owners include RWE npower renewables (60%), Stadtwerke München (30%) and Siemens (10%).

Later this year a new purpose-built installation vessel, the Victoria Mathias, will arrive from South Korea to begin offshore preparations – to be joined by a sister ship, the Friedrich Ernestine, once work is done on RWE’s Nordsee Ost project in German waters.