Dong's 184MW Walney 1 now 'fully operational' in the Irish Sea

Having suffered previously from delays related to cabling, the 184MW Walney 1 project is now fully operational in the Irish Sea, lifting the UK’s installed offshore wind capacity to more than 1.5GW.

Construction at Walney 1 was finished in May, when the last of 51 Siemens 2.3MW turbines exported its first power to the onshore grid.

Since then, the project’s developers – Dong and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) – have been conducting commissioning tests and “minor corrections”.

All such work has been completed, according to SSE, with all turbines flowing electricity under water for 14km to the Cumbrian coast.

Walney 2, which is identical in size, scope and components, is on track for commissioning in 2012, says SSE chief operating officer Colin Hood.

The two phases will together produce an estimated 1,300GWh of electricity a year, with an average load factory of about 43%.

Dong was awarded the Walney zone in 2003 as part of the UK’s second round of offshore tenders. It subsequently sold a 25.1% stake to SSE and, last December, 24.8% to a consortium of Dutch investors, leaving the Danish utility with a 50.1% share.

Last year the Crown Estate offered Dong a 750MW extension at Walney as part of its plan to keep the offshore wind sector humming during the gap between the completion of most Round 2 projects and the commence of construction at Round 3 sites.

Separately, Masdar says that 22 of 177 planned monopile foundations have been put in place at the London Array project under construction in the Thames Estuary, and insists the 630MW project will be completed on schedule in late 2012.

London Array is owned by Dong (50%), German utility E.ON (30%) and Abu Dhabi-based renewables group Masdar (20%).

Last month Dong signed a framework agreement that will see it buy 600 foundations from Denmark’s Bladt Industries, which is supplying London Array.

Like Walney, both London Array and the 389MW West of Duddon Sands project, which Dong is building in tandem with Iberdrola-owned Scottish Power in the Irish Sea, will use Siemens turbines.