Month: October 2016

Construction update 24th October

Last Thursday the wind eventually dropped enough to allow more progress at T2. The top tower section was the next in line to be lifted.

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T2 top tower section takes flight

Both cranes are required for the first stage; the main 500-tonne capacity crane lifts the top end and the 200-tonne auxiliary crane lifts the bottom end off the ground with a special clamp attached to the lifting strop. This allows the main crane to gradually raise the top end until it is taking the full weight and the tower is vertical.

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Tower section being raised with the lift manager looking on

Once the auxiliary crane is disconnected the tower is lowered temporarily onto supports on the ground so the installation technicians can perform final checks and cleaning. They also attach a bag of the huge nuts and bolts that will be used to connect the tower sections so they don’t have to carry these up the ladder to the top of the section already built – you can see this in the picture above along with a generator to power some of their tools. Around lunchtime you can often see bags of sandwiches being clipped on and lifted so the engineers don’t have to climb back down to get them!

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Final positioning of the tower section

The tower is then hoisted up and carefully maneuvered into position to be bolted down.

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T2 nacelle being positioned

Next comes the nacelle; in the photo above you can just make out the taglines used by the technicians on the ground to control the angle it is lifted at. With such large components it’s easy to see why low wind conditions are needed at this stage.

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T2 drivetrain being lifted

The drivetrain may look like a small component, but it weighs 46 tonnes, nearly as much as the nacelle itself (50 tonnes), and more than the top tower section, which is only 30 tonnes.

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Technicians holding the taglines for the drive-train

The drive-train is comprised of the main shaft which supports the rotor blades and hub, and the gearbox, which converts the low-speed rotation of the blades into the high-speed rotation required to generate power.

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The drive-train nearing home

You can just see one of the technicians in the nacelle waiting to pull the unit into place.

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Turbine 1 from above

We’ve just been sent these amazing shots captured by a drone belonging to our main contractor Prelec, giving a whole new perspective on the site.

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The cranes prepare to lift the first tower section at T1
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A birds-eye view of the completed turbine

Construction update 19th October

Progress has remained fairly slow over the past 10 days with high winds preventing much installation work, but there was at last a break to get T1 installed.

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T1 installed

The first two tower sections of T2 also went up last week and they hope to complete the rest of the turbine in the next few days if the forecast holds.

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Cranes awaiting lighter winds at T2

All the components have now been delivered to site; the base tower section for T3 is ready to be lifted at the crane pad there, but there isn’t enough room to store the other two sections there as well, so they are on the T1 hardstanding for now and will be moved down to T3 next week once the base section has been erected.

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Components in storage at T3
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Inside one of the remaining tower sections lying at T1

Construction update 5th October

The first tower sections arrived on site yesterday, a convoy of three parts for T1. They were all on different types of trailer to account for the varying lengths, diameters and weights of each section, ensuring they would fit below bridges and other obstacles on the route from Blyth.

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Tower convoy on Ecclaw Road
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The vessel bridge trailer carrying the base section

The longest trailer is known as a ‘vessel bridge’ or ‘clamp’ trailer; it has a front and rear unit with no mechanical connection, both parts are clamped to the tower which helps it stay close to ground level, reducing the overall height. The multiple wheels help limit the individual axle weight. Both the front and rear units of the trailer have independent steering to negotiate tight bends, the rear unit can be controlled by an operator standing on the back of the unit to give him better visibility.

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The sections of the clamp trailer are joined after unloading

Once at T1 the hydraulics on the trailer lowered the base section onto the ground, and the front and rear sections of the trailer were clamped together for the drive back to Blyth.

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Main crane at T1

The main 500 tonne capacity crane is now set-up at T1, but unfortunately the winds were too high to install any of the tower sections yesterday afternoon.

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Blades, hub, nacelle and drive-train unloaded and ready at T2

The components are all ready for installation at T2, with the tower sections due here on Friday, weather permitting.

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Inside one of the nacelles, with the generator visible (centre)

Some work has already started on fitting smaller components into and onto the nacelles on the ground to prepare them for installation. Looking inside you can see the main 2.5MW generator, ready to receive the gearbox.

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T3 hardstanding and components

The bulk of the landscaping has been completed at T3, with the nacelle, hub and drive-train delivered here too now. The final cable trenching is underway here at the moment and should be completed by the end of the week.

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Excalon backfilling one of the SPEN cable trenches

Off-site, Excalon are making progress with the cable trenching for the network operator, SP Energy Networks. After the cable ducts are put in position, they cover them with sand and then lay down marker tape for the power and fibre-optic communication cables.

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An end-section of the ducting

There are multiple ducts being installed at once; one for each of the 3 phases of the 33,000-volt cable being used to connect Hoprigshiels, and two larger ducts on top for the two 3-core 11,000-volt cables being laid to connect the Kinegar/Neuk turbines. The final green duct is for the comms fibre. Ropes will be used to pull all the cables through at a later stage; this is more efficient than laying the cable directly in the trench, resulting in the work being completed more quickly. It also means the road won’t have to be dug up again over long stretches if the one of the cables develops a fault in the future.

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Innerwick substation

There is also good progress being made on the substation at Innerwick, which will contain the switchgear used to isolate the new cable from the existing 33kV network which it will tap into at this point. The walls are going up fast and the interior roof slab has been poured as well.

Turbine delivery update

We’ve had a few delays due to the weather and paperwork issues at port; revised delivery dates are as follows;

  • Nacelle, Hub and DT (final set) to T3 today (October 3rd)
  • Towers set to T1 on Tuesday October 4th
  • Blades for T1 (final set)  Thursday 6th October
  • T2 towers Friday 7th October
  • T3 towers Monday 10th October

Most of the components are arriving from around 1230-1400. Dates for the T2/T3 towers in particular may change if there are weather delays in installation.