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New phase begins for offshore wind farm with arrival of specialist installation vessel

By Calum MacLeod

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The Bold Tern. Photograph: Fred Olsen Wind Carrier AS
The Bold Tern. Photograph: Fred Olsen Wind Carrier AS

A 950MW wind farm project off the Caithness coast is taking a step nearer completion with the arrival of specialist installation vessel, Bold Tern.

Chartered by MHI Vestas, the Bold Tern has arrived at the Port of Nigg in the Moray Firth to begin work on the Moray Offshore Windfarm East offshore wind farm.

The vessel will be used to instal 100 V164-9.5MW turbines on top of the three-legged steel jacket foundations which have already been installed 22km offshore. The turbine components, including blades, towers and nacelles, are being marshalled at local quayside facilities in the Moray Firth, with the entire project being constructed from local port facilities.

Moray East project director Marcel Sunier said: “Following the safe and successful installation of all of the foundations last year, the arrival of the installation vessel Bold Tern in the Moray Firth marks a new and exciting phase for the project.

“The wind turbine components are marshalled on the quayside then loaded on to the installation vessel, which then sails to each turbine site where there is a jacket, already installed in the Firth. The tower is assembled on the jacket, the nacelle being put on top and the blades are then mounted.All of this demands considerable precision, skill and planning, manipulating, with great accuracy, massive components at height in the challenging conditions of the Moray Firth.

“Although the turbines are the most visible and distinctive part of the wind farm, considerable work has been required both at sea and on land to reach this stage of the project and I would like to thank all those whose work has brought us to this point, and I look forward to a safe and successful installation campaign.”

Once fully operational, Moray East is expected to generate enough energy to power some 950,000 homes, saving the equivalent of 1.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, and playing an important part in helping achieve net zero carbon targets.

The developers say power will be generated at a cost of £57.50/MWhr, the lowest cost of any new renewable generation and two-thirds less than offshore wind farms in operation around the UK today.

Moray East is expected to be fully operational by 2022.

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