Via its British subsidiary ScottishPower Renewables, Iberdrola is making progress on its first major offshore wind power project , the West of Duddon Sands wind farm (WoDS), in the United Kingdom.
The company is carrying out this initiative in a joint venture with Danish firm Dong Energy. The first turbines at this offshore wind farm have already been connected to the grid: a milestone for renewable energies in Spain and the first offshore project by the Spanish company to produce electricity.
West of Duddon Sands is located about 20 kilometres from Barrow-in-Furness, on the North-West coast of England. It has been under construction for two years now and is expected to be in operation by the end of 2014.
Commissioning this facility will require a total investment amounting to £1.6 billion. It will have a capacity of 389 megawatts (MW) and produce enough electricity to meet the needs of some 300,000 British homes. The site covers a surface area of about 67 km2 and the turbines supplied by German firm Siemens have a unit capacity of 3.6 MW.
The energy produced by the wind turbines is collected in an offshore substation specially designed to withstand the harsh weather conditions in the area. The voltage is raised in the substation and then two undersea cables export the electricity to the Heysham substation on land, which is the point of connection to the UK grid.
The WoDS wind farm has been designed with the latest advanced technology, which has allowed to bring down costs. The new terminal at the port of Belfast that was built specifically for the purpose of installing offshore wind farms is used to store and pre-assemble all the parts and components. Some 300 people work there, ranging from welders to engineers and crane operators.
This major offshore wind power complex is being built using state-of-the-art installation ships. They are the most modern ships available on the market and were built expressly for the installation of offshore wind farms.
The ships are used on a joint basis: Pacific Orca (the largest installation ship in the world, measuring 161 m long, 49 m wide and 10.4 m deep) is used to transport the foundations; and Sea Installer is used to take the wind turbines and blades out to the designated wind farm location.
The Iberdrola Group has pinpointed offshore wind power as one of the core areas for its future growth and aims to spearhead the development of this technology, while proceeding with the care that is required with this kind of investments. The company has an Offshore Business Division (with offices in Glasgow, London, Berlin, Madrid and Paris) in charge of gradually commissioning its project portfolio, which already amounts to a capacity of some 8,000 MW in the UK, Germany and France.