Biomass | Blackburn Meadows Biomass Power Plant

The Blackburn Meadows biomass power plant in Sheffield, northern England has started generating electricity. The facility is owned and operated by E.ON UK and is the third biomass facility to be owned by the company in the UK.

Blackburn Meadows BiomassThe project cost 120 pounds to bring to the fully commissioned stage and it has a generating capacity of 30 MW. This is sufficient power to provide electricity to 40,000 homes.

The power plant takes in locally sourced recycled wood waste to convert to electricity. The facility will serve to save around 80,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Construction of the power plant began in 2011 with around 3,400 people involved in the construction process. Now that the facility is in operation it has created around 30 full-time jobs to keep it operational. The site is located around 5.5km north east of the city centre of Sheffield.

Luke Ellis, E.ON’s Blackburn Meadows Project Manager, said: “After several years of hard work by the project team and our contractors it is a great feeling to be finally generating power.

“The next and final stage of the project is the reliability and performance testing phase which is due to be completed this summer.”

The project has been successful in adding job opportunities to the area as well as providing investment options too. The fact that the power plant is producing electricity through renewable methods is another positive factor in its favour.

Wind Power | Hawaii Wind Farm Recommissioned to Power Water Wells

There are plans to recommission the Lalamilo Wind Farm in Hawaii. The wind farm was a 2.7 MW project that was powered by 120 Jacobs turbines and was decommissioned in 2010 in order to replace the outdated turbines.

To get an idea of what the old wind farm used to look like, we have provided an image of the site. It’s not immediately obvious by looking at the picture below but a number of the turbines had fallen off their towers or were destroyed before the wind farm was decommissioned.

Old Lalamilo Wind Farm

The proposed upgraded wind farm will sit on the old South Kohala site and will consist of five Vestas 660 kW wind turbine generators. This will give the new version of the wind farm a total generating capacity of 3.3 MW.

The power that is to be generated by the wind farm will be used to supply power to eight wells in the Lalamilo-Parker well system. This solution is part of a Department of Water Supply plan.

In all, the wells have a combined capacity of 5 million gallons a day which is used from the Mauna Lani Resort to Kawaihae.

The Lalamilo Wind Co. was awarded the $13 million project by the Department of Water Supply. The benefit to the department is that it will cut the power bill for the wells in half over the next 20 years.

It is expected that the project will be commissioned and start providing electricity by the end of 2015 or early 2016. From there, its lifespan has been estimated to be around 40 years.

There is an EA process that will take 60 to 90 days. The land, which comprises 126 acres, will be leased by the project and this is to be acquired from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

There is additional work required to bring the wind farm up to a suitable modern standard with road improvements to made, an updated monitoring and control system plus a new 13-kilvolt overhead electrical transmission line.

The project details are open for public comment until July 23, 2014.

New England Coast Offshore Wind Leases Announced

There is now more than 742,000 acres of offshore territory off the Massachusetts coast that is available for commercial wind energy leasing after a recent announcement. The announcement was made by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank along with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

This new area that has been opened up is the largest in federal waters and almost doubles the federal offshore acreage that is now available for commercial-scale wind energy projects.

Massachusetts WEA

Image: BOEM (click to enlarge)

“Massachusetts is leading the way toward building a clean and sustainable energy future that creates jobs, cuts carbon pollution and develops domestic clean energy resources,” said Secretary Jewell. “Thanks to Governor Patrick’s vision and leadership, the competitive lease sale in Massachusetts will reflect the extensive and productive input from a number of important stakeholders. This includes interests such as commercial fishing, shipping, cultural, historical, environmental, and local communities to minimize conflicts and bring clarity and certainty to potential wind energy developers.”

The area is called the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area and it is located some 12 miles offshore Massachusetts. From north to south is a distance of 33 nautical miles and from east to west it is around 47 nautical miles. The BOEM plans to auction the Wind Energy Area as four leases.

There have already been five commercial wind energy leases awarded by BOEM off the Atlantic coast. These leases comprise two noncompetitive leases (Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound off Massachusetts and an area off Delaware) and three competitive leases (two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island and another offshore Virginia). Around $5.4 million was raised for the competitive leases and they cover an area of about 277,550 acres in federal waters.

Additional competitive auctions are expected to be held by BOEM later in 2014 for Wind Energy Areas offshore Maryland and New Jersey.

The full press release that discusses the announcement can be found on the BOEM website here.

“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been working hand in hand with BOEM to foster responsible commercial wind development in federal waters off Massachusetts,” said BOEM Acting Director Cruickshank. “Members of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Task Force have been great partners in our planning process for the Wind Energy Area and the Proposed Sale Notice.”

The proposed sale notice begins a 60-day public comment period that ends at midnight on August 18. During that period BOEM will also accept application materials from parties interested in bidding on the leases.

Gwynt y Mor Offshore Wind Farm – Foundations Completed

Construction of the Gwynt y Mor Offshore wind farm is underway with the last of the turbine foundations now in place. At a cost of more than £2 billion, the 160 turbine wind farm represents the largest construction project in Europe. When it is completed and commissioned the project will have the capacity to produce 576 MW of electricity.

Gwynt y Mor Offshore Wind Farm DetailsEach of the Siemens SWT-3.6-107 turbines has a 3.6MW rating. They are supported by monopile foundations and each has a diameter of 5 meters and the outer casing is made from steel. they range in length from 50m to 70m in length.

The first power generated from the wind farm was in August 2013 and this was exported to a substation at St Asaph.

When the wind farm is fully commissioned it will be capable of supplying enough electricity to power around 400,000 homes. This roughly equates to a third of the number of households in Wales. It will produce 1,950GWh of clean energy per annum.

The wind farm is sited around 14km off the North Wales coast in Liverpool Bay in the Irish Sea and covers an area of around 79 square kilometres. The depths of the water range from 15m to 30m.

Gwynt y Mor Wind Farm Layout

Image: RWE Innogy (click to enlarge)

The project is owned and is being developed by a joint venture that comprises RWE Innogy (60%), Stadwerke Munchen (30%) and Siemens (10%).

The project will also consist of two offshore substations which will connect to the turbines through 33kV array cables. These substations will transform the energy from 33kV up to 132kV for transmission to a new onshore substation at St Asaph. This substation will also be built by Siemens.

Gwynt y Mor

By April 2014 the foundations of all 160 turbines were completed. The turbine foundations are monopole and transition pieces with the first being installed back in August 2012.

A new long term operations and maintenance complex for the wind farm that will house more than 100 staff is being constructed at the Port of Mostyn, North Wales. This facility will be the base for engineering, technician, management and administrative services throughout the operational lifetime of the wind farm.

Construction of the operations complex is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014 which will coincide with the planned completion of the construction of the wind farm.

Icebreaker Offshore Pilot Wind Project

A planned offshore wind farm will be built using a turbine design that will combat the problems posed by ice build up in the shallow waters of Lake Erie. The project is called the Icebreaker Offshore Wind Project and will sit 7 miles off the shore near Cleveland.

The Icebreaker project is an 18MW pilot project that is hoped to be the first of a number of projects that will total over 1,000 megawatts of renewable electricity production in the Ohio waters.

Icebreaker Offshore Wind Project DetailsThe project is being developed by Lake Erie Development Corporation (LEEDCo) along with Great Lakes Ohio Wind (GLOW), Cavallo Great Lakes Ohio Wind, Great Lakes Wind Energy LLC and Freshwater Wind LLC.

The Icebreaker Turbines

The plan is to install 6 Siemens SWT-3.0-113 turbines. These turbines are part of an innovative design that will overcome the unique conditions of Lake Erie.

The seabed into which the monopile design will be sunk is composed of soft clay, sand and compacted clay for a depth of 60 feet. In order to get through the soft layer to the shale bedrock underneath the monopole design will be adapted.

In addition, the turbine towers will be given additional stability by adding a friction wheel that will sit on the lake floor. The friction wheel is made of large metal rings that spread the load from the turbine.

Because Lake Erie is prone to freezing the turbine towers are going to have to withstand the force of tons of ice running into them as it moves around on the surface.

The answer to combat this are specially designed ice cones that sit at the surface of the water and break up the ice as it strikes the turbines. During this pilot project there will be sensors placed around the turbine towers to collect data about the effectiveness of the design.

Project Timeline

The planned timeline for the project is to begin construction and installation of the turbines during the spring of 2017. If the project runs to schedule it is hoped that it will be in operation by 2018.

One setback to the project meeting its goals came about in May 2014 when the project failed in securing one of three $47 million 4 year grants that the Department of Energy (DOE) were offering. This funding would have come through the Offshore Wind Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects (OWATDP) initiative.

Environmental Group Support

There are always concerns about the impact that the introduction of wind turbines will have on the wildlife that inhabit the area. The project has already received letters of support and endorsements from local conservation bodies.

Organisations such as the Sierra Club, Environment Ohio, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light and the Earth Day Coalition have all given their support.

Environmental impact studies conducted by LEEDCo have indicated that a wind farm that is located on-water is far less likely to impact birds. This is because they migrate over shallower portions of the lake.

However the American Bird Conservancy and Black Swamp Bird Observatory have expressed their concerns about the project to the Ohio Power Siting Board.

To this point LEEDCo have consulted extensively with fish and wildlife experts at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in an effort to ensure all possible adverse effects are diminished or eliminated.

Approval is still to be granted to the project and because it is the first one on the Great Lakes it is sure to come under a great deal more scrutiny. As well as the construction of the 6 turbines the project will also consist of 34.5kV cables that include five kilometres of inter array lines and 12 kilometres of expect cable. These will be connected to a 34.5/69 kV substation at the Cleveland Public Power Lake Road substation.

Humber Gateway Offshore Wind Project

The Humber Gateway Offshore Wind Project is a planned wind farm located 8km off the East Yorkshire coast. The project is expected to cost around £700 million and it will have a total installed capacity of 219 MW and will consist of 73 turbines.

When the project has been completed and is commissioned it will be able to generate enough electricity to power as many as 170,000 homes.

Humber Gateway Wind Project DetailsThe project is being developed and will be owned by E.ON Climate and Renewables. As well as the 73 Vestas V112-3.0 MW turbines the project will also involve onshore and offshore cables. These cables are essential components that will bring the electricity to a substation. From here the power can be fed into the National Grid.

There will be around 30km of cabling running underground onshore. In order to step the electricity up before it joins the grid the power will pass through two substations, one onshore and one offshore.

The site covers an area of around 25 square kilometres with the northern boundary running parallel to existing pipelines that run into Easington.

In February, 2014 the project developer announced that a key milestone in the project was reached with the completion of the first phase foundations being successful.

This included twenty four foundations consisting of a tubular steel monopole that were driven into the seabed. These foundation form the bases for the turbines that will follow. A further 49 foundations are to be installed in the next phase of the project.

Humber Wind Farm Control Facility

Another part of the project that is crucial to its success, the facility that will accommodate the Operations and Management Team has been completed Grimsby Fish Dock. This is a £3 million facility that contains offices, stores and the wind farm control room. It has been built with its own solar array, roof top wind turbines and points to allow electric vehicles to be recharged.

The offshore cabling has been laid and all has gone according to plan. These cables are going to connect the offshore substation to the onshore substation. The onshore substation is still under construction at Salt End.

At this stage the project continues to run to schedule with the planned commissioning in 2015 still expected to be met.

East Anglia One Offshore Wind Farm Approved

Consent has been granted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in the UK for the East Anglia One Offshore Wind Farm project. This is a significant piece of work that should be capable of generating 1,200 megawatts of electricity. This will be enough to power around 820,000 homes.

It is planned that the wind farm will consist of up to 240 wind turbines and will cover an area of approximately 300km2.

Offshore Wind Farm

Located Off the Suffolk Coast

The wind farm will sit in the southern North Sea and it is expected that the project will be the first of up to six such projects planned for the region.

Joint Venture

The project is a joint venture between Scottish Power Renewables which is a subsidiary of Spanish Energy firm Iberdrola and the Swedish utility Vattenfall.

Construction To Begin in 2017

Following a final investment decision, it is anticipated that onshore construction could begin in 2017, with offshore work starting in 2018 and first power generation achieved in 2019.

It is estimated that the project could be responsible for generating around 1,800 local jobs to the area as well as pumping up to £500 million (US$847 million) into the region’s economy. This can be further broken down to be around £100 million each year of construction.

ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall expect that up to 170 engineers and technicians would be required to provide operations and maintenance support for the project once completed.

Proposed Wind Farm Facilities

The project will involve the installation of far more than the planned 240 wind turbines. It will also include:

  • Up to three offshore collector stations and two offshore converter stations. This will transform the electricity to a suitable form for it to be transferred to shore.
  • Up to four seabed cables to transfer the electricity. These cables could measure up to 73km in length.
  • A landfall site with onshore transition pits to connect the offshore and onshore cables.
  • Up to four onshore cables that could measure up to 37km in length. These cables will transfer the electricity to an onshore converter station.
  • An onshore converter station adjacent to the existing substation at Bramford, Suffolk. This station will be the connection to the National Grid.
  • As many as eight cable ducts. These will be put in place to cater for the East Anglia One project as well as two future projects and will connect into Bramford Substation.

Quotes From Participating Parties

“East Anglia and the rest of the UK have a lot to gain from this development. The project has the potential to inject millions of pounds into the local and national economies, and support thousands of green jobs. Making the most of Britain’s home grown energy is crucial in creating job and business opportunities, getting the best deal for customers and reducing our reliance on foreign imports,” said U.K. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey.

According to the CEO of Scottish Power Renewables, “This is the largest renewable energy project ever to receive planning consent in England and Wales, and it is a significant achievement to see our plans approved, and an important step forward towards a final investment decision. Our project team has spent more than three years planning the details of this project, and consulting widely with communities and stakeholders across the East Anglia region.

“We will now take forward our discussions with the supply chain as we work towards unlocking the significant economic potential of the project. East Anglia ONE could support thousands of skilled jobs in construction and operation, and make a positive impact on the local and national economy for decades to come.”

Gunnar Groebler, head of Vattenfall’s Continental/UK renewables division, said:  “The UK is a world leader in offshore wind and if it is to maintain that position it must continue reducing costs if the sector is to have a long term future. The investment in competitive UK and regional supply chains is essential to cost reduction in the sector but that investment will only be made if there is a pipeline of projects. Therefore the consent of a scheme like East Anglia ONE – which should be warmly welcomed by everyone – will boost business confidence and help secure more affordable, more reliable and greener power in the UK electricity mix.”

Largest Offshore Wind Farm

The fact that the largest offshore wind farm project has won consent is an indication of the strength of the offshore wind industry. It also shows how much faith governing bodies are putting in the processes that are undertaken to get such facilities installed and operational.

Florida Tidal Turbine Leases Granted for Testing

A new five year lease agreement has been signed between researchers from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The purpose of the agreement is to allow testing of small-scale ocean tidal turbines to be undertaken by FAU.

Multiple Test Berths

As per the agreement it will now be possible to install multiple test berths on the outer continental shelf 13 miles offshore from Broward County. This gives the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) of FAU the chance to deploy turbine prototypes up to 100kW in generating capacity from vessels moored in the Gulf Stream.

Small Scale Current Turbine

The turbine test site in question has been the object of attention by the SNMREC since 2007. Tests that have been carried out earlier in 2014 emphasised the need for this type of test site with a small-scale turbine put through its paces in tow tests.

To be specific, the terms of the lease is to specifically authorise three single-anchor mooring systems attached to mooring and telemetry buoys (MTB)

Five Year Lease Agreement

The signing of the five year lease agreement means the world’s first offshore test berth for small-scale ocean current turbines will be possible.

“This is the first time a lease has been issued to test ocean current energy equipment in federal waters,” BOEM acting director Walter Cruickshank said. “The Gulf Stream contains a tremendous amount of energy, and this technology offers exciting potential to expand the nation’s renewable energy portfolio.”

An environmental review has been conducted and it was started in May 2011. It has concluded that the project would have ‘no significant impact’ on the area.

Goals of the Testing Area

The installation of these experimental devices as well as the related infrastructure is to:

  1. evaluate the effects of operating marine hydrokinetic devices on environment and resources
  2. demonstrate technology needs for further MHK development
  3. develop methodologies to perform the tests safely and responsibly
  4. develop and refine the tools that allow performance and effects of technologies to be monitored

All of this potential testing that can now take place in the Gulf Stream with the help of almost US$20 million in funding that has come from the Department of Energy, the state of Florida and private companies.

High-Altitude Wind Power: Nature Technology Systems

High-altitude wind power is making it possible to access the consistent wind currents at altitudes that are far beyond those that are accessible with standard tower based turbines. One of the device technologies that is building momentum is kite power developed by Nature Technology Systems and although this technology is largely untested in the commercial world, there is some interest in the potential it offers.

This is one of the Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) companies that have been springing up to take advantage of the winds that are to be found at higher altitudes. It is worth taking a closer look at each of the newer developments in the industry to get an idea of just how possible it is to produce wind power in ways other than the standard tower based turbines.

Nature Technology Systems (NTS) is a German company that has developed the crosswind system and is a wind power process that makes use of kites to harness the wind power. The NTS Principle is a patented method of generating energy from the wind and is unique in the efficient manner in which it works.

The principle under which NTS operates relies on a few principles:

  1. Energy output is cubed as the speed increases
  2. The greater the elevation the higher the wind speed
  3. The greater the elevation the more consistent the wind
  4. A kite can produce equal levels of wind energy as a conventional wind energy system with far greater efficiency

The difference between the NTS kites and a conventional wind turbine is that the NTS solution does not require huge amounts of building materials to create towers and turbines for implementation. Similarly it is not necessary to build extensive access roads to get to each device.

What is required in this case is an area of land that contains a closed length of rail track. This means there is still some environmental impact that will take place to build the rail and the other earth-bound components of the system. This is also where the bulk of the construction costs and maintenance are going to take place.

The Edge Provided By NTS Kites

An NTS kite is flown in constant figure eight patterns at significantly higher speeds than is possible with a conventional wind turbine. The nature of the kite means that it is able to withstand much higher wind pressure and can continue to operate whereas a tower-based turbine would be placed under tremendous stress.

By soaring up to 500m in altitude it is possible for the stronger and more consistent wind currents to be utilized. At this height it is possible to continue to generate energy without running into any safety problems.

The tethered kite pulls railed cars around a closed loop system. The kite is attached to the car by four thethers, two of which steer the kite and two to pull the car. The railed cars are connected by cables to the grid and electricity is passed straight in through the wheels.

NTS Prototype

The system devised by NTS is still a developing prototype with the effort proving the technology having been put into a 400 linear metre closed track using a 20 square metre surface area kite. As the company develops its model it plans to scale up the size of the kites with 40 square metre and 80 square metre surface area kites planned for the future. These kites will have far greater pulling capacity which translates into greater energy producing capabilities.

The numbers that have been displayed by the company in terms of the power generating capacity of the kites have indicated that a kite with a 10 square metre surface area is capable of producing 10 kW of electricity. It is still to be demonstrated how this will translate when it is scaled up, whether that is in terms of the size of the kites, the number of kites that run simultaneously on a track or the height at which the kites are deployed.

It is important to remember that the Airborne Wind Energy system that is still in development and the company is in the process of attracting investors to help fund it. There is still a great deal that has to happen before this particular use of kite power becomes a feasible source of wind power.

For more information about the various other prototypes nad developments in the AWE industry you can read our earlier article listed below.

Related article: High-Altitude Wind Energy Development

Suction Bucket Foundation Could Reduce Offshore Wind Energy Costs

The set-up costs of offshore wind farms could be drastically reduced thanks to a new piece of technology that has been called the ‘suction bucket’ foundation. The bucket is a means of anchoring offshore wind turbines and has been developed by Universal Foundation of Denmark.

An industry trial worth around £6.5 million and hosted by the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) will test the new bucket foundation. The project will be jointly funded by the Carbon Trust and the Danish Government along with Statoil (as the lead partner), Statkraft, EON, DONG Energy and Universal Foundation.

It is planned that the trial will take place during August to September 2014.

Innovative Offshore Wind Design

Universal Foundation Suction Bucket

Image: Universal Foundation

The design of the foundation means that the heavy pile-driven installation is removed. This high impact process is responsible for the majority of the environmental damage caused through sonic vibrations and disruption to the ocean floor.

Instead the unit is able to screw itself into the seabed before the bucket component fills with silt and water. This process creates a suction that anchors it and the platform firmly.

The beauty of this process is that it is completely reversible so that when it comes time to remove the foundation it is a relatively simple process and the entire unit can be redeployed elsewhere.

The developers of the suction bucket foundation, Universal Foundation, will work with North Sea wind energy companies Statoil, Statkraft, EON and DONG Energy as well as a Danish university. The test sites will be located within the Dogger Bank, Hornsea and Dudgeon offshore wind farms in the OWA area.

Lower Cost Implications

Should the testing of the suction bucket be successful and its use become a standard in the way offshore wind turbine platforms are installed it could save developers millions of pounds. It is a clear way in which the cost of offshore wind energy can be reduced over the next decade.

In fact, Carbon Trust has estimated that using the new foundations could reduce the cost of energy by 10% for the 2,500 offshore wind turbines that are expected to be deployed.

Torgeir Ramstad of Universal Foundation said: “We are very pleased to be working jointly with key stakeholders to demonstrate the potential of this unique technology, which we believe will bring substantial cost reductions to future offshore wind farms. Not only are we able to install in a wide range of soil conditions, carrying the largest turbines in deeper waters, we can accomplish installation of turbines immediately following foundation installation thus entering the production phase much faster – These are just a few of the key benefits of our value proposition.”

This innovative new design has come directly from an international competition run by Carbon Trust seeking ways to lower capital costs of installing offshore wind power. Universal Foundation was one of the four shortlisted finalists in the competition.

Another of the finalists, the Keystone twisted jacket foundation has also been demonstrated in 2011.