By 31 March Vestas had installed the first two V90–3.0 MW wind turbines on the Bligh Bank project off the coast of Belgium. The remaining 53 turbines should be in place by September, followed by handover to client Belwind NV in January 2011 or even a little earlier, says Knud Just Andersen, Senior Project Manager with Vestas Offshore.
The fact that the project’s grid connection will not be available until September gives Vestas 170 days to install the 55 turbines, Andersen says. In contrast to the hectic activity on the Thanet project, where the installation vessel Resolution carries nine turbines per trip, the relaxed schedule at Bligh Bank allows Vestas to carry just two turbines at a time aboard the unpowered Dutch jack-up barge JB-114. “Under the circumstances, this is a very cost-effective solution,” Andersen says.
Situated 46-50 km from the harbour of Zeebrugge, in water around 32 m deep, Bligh Bank is currently the world’s furthest-offshore wind power project. “The sailing time of 6–7 hours is definitely a drawback,” Andersen says. Vestas will supply, install and commission the turbines, and maintain them for five years. As with all other current offshore projects, Vestas is using its new horizontal blade gripper to speed up installation and reduce downtime due to bad weather.
Though Andersen has been with Vestas for only little more than a year, he brings valuable experience in managing large turnkey projects for the airport industry. “From a logistics point of view, an airport project is far more complicated than an offshore wind farm,” he says, “and puts even more stringent demands on both weather and safety. It’s fun to bring in new tools and experience, and so far we have succeeded quite well.”
When Andersen realised that the turbines’ electronics could not be tested until near the end of the project, when the grid connection becomes available, he started looking for a way round this bottleneck. “So now we make a temporary power connection even before the turbine leaves the dockside, and this allows us to test all the control systems,” he says. “That eliminates many of the errors we see when the turbines are first powered up offshore.”
“This morning we received confirmation that the first turbine is fully operational: if we had a grid connection, we could turn it on. I think this is the first time anyone has done it like that.”