Siemens 6MW 'imminent' at Gunfleet

Contractor A2Sea’s giant Sea Installer jack-up vessel has arrived at the Dong-operated Gunfleet Sands 3 wind demonstration site off southeast England to erect the first of a pair of Siemens’ ground-breaking 6MW offshore turbines.

Located alongside the Danish group's 172MW Gunfleet Sands 1 and 2 developments, Gunfleet Sands 3 is designed to test Siemens’ highest-capacity SWT-6.0-120 machine – the company's first turbine fully-designed for hostile marine environments.

“Everything is going according to plan. The vessel is working satisfactorily and the spirit on board is high," says Brian Bendixen, master on Sea Installer.

A Dong UK spokesman confirmed that the vessel was “on site and, weather dependent, construction will start imminently”.

A prototype of the 6MW turbine, which will stand 148-metres tall and feature a 120-metre-diameter rotor, has been running at an onshore test site in Høvsøre, Denmark, since June 2011.

At the Gunfleet Sands 3 site, which stands in 15 metres of water 7km off the coast of Essex, Dong has been conducting tests looking at monopile scour protection, use of remotely-operated underwater vehicles for cable installation, and a new cost-reducing export line protection system.

An 800-metre flexible pipe duct has been installed onshore by being "pulled back" through a 560mm-diameter hole bored under a sea wall.

Dong is also testing the Siemens turbines at Gunfleet Sands with an eye on its “small” UK Round 3 sites — the 1GW Njord and 2GW Heron projects.