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Thursday, 7 October 2010

Offshore Wind Turbines.

20030924                      Picture by Ant Upton ©
GV's of North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm
Alex Tritten and Jo Wilson
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In previous posts I iterated that the costs of Operation and maintenance was at best understated, if not unknown.

However another item of the structure of wind farms is of concern as well.

I.E. Once you’ve produced all that power from the infernal bird mincers, you’ve then got to transmit it ashore and into the grid.

Cables may serve as an offshore wind farm’s umbilical cord but it doesn’t take much neglect, inexperience, substandard planning or lack of resources to suddenly transform them into cost-sapping Achilles heels.


There are three main problems to contend with.

These include breaks “caused by vessel movements and inexperienced crew”; cable loops “due to vessel movements, lack of control or bad equipment and software”; and cables being cut short “due to people not using the right measurement techniques and methodology to install the second end – when you get to the second end you should know how much to the meter is required”.

And on the maintenance of this cable.

“If you have a damaged export cable and you don’t have a maintenance model in place – what are the vessels that are going to repair it, is there spare cable around, do you have jointing expert available – if that hasn’t been worked out you could be down for months,”

Experienced Engineers are numerous it would seem.


But while technological necessity, planning and implementation methodologies and industrial up-scaling will inevitably evoke all manner of capital complexities, the real issue is likely to be people. Or rather the distinct lack of them.

Bit of a muddle really.


  1. The telecoms industry has been doing this for years with undersea cables so it isn't such a big leap for their maintenance crews to pick up the new skills for these cables.

    I do agree that it isn't cheap, outages can last for a very along time and its more than likely (straw man alert) that those who are selling offshore wind as the great saviour haven't considered these costs,or at best have seriously down played them.

    One way round all the problems is to have diversity, ie two cables taking completely different routes, which doubles costs or to run loops, which increases costs but not by as much. However, with loops the ends have to be able to carry X times the power, which may not be possible. (Where X is the number of windmills)

  2. If one looks to the Danish experience there some some bits of wire they are very relieved to have - which has saved their Danish Bacon™ more than once - the HVDC power connector from Norway hydro electric plants.There's diversity.

    We are already being shafted. Look at what the French are paying for tricolor electrons. = around half the price of a Union Jack particle and then they're being investigated for price fixing!!....

    With that sort of price differential smuggling electrons seems like a good business to get into.

    We are being misled and lied to by unscrupulous arseholes who want to get their hands in our wallets en masse.

    Last winter they almost melted the French HVDC connector across the channel - it's about time we built some more.

    What about a public subscription campaign to buy and operate some HVDC connectors from France? It's an old, tried and tested and almost forgotten method to get infrastructure in place - and a perfect home for those(we?) dirty skeptics?


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