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Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm
and Wells Harbour - Update

Nigel Tompkins
Scira local representative

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Since the last bulletin, good progress has been made towards the installation of the 88 wind turbines that will constitute the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, due for completion and commissioning in 2012.

The project, equally owned by Norwegian companies, Statoil and Statkraft, through the joint venture company, Scira Offshore Energy Limited, has completed various individual stages of development that have been undertaken at different sites in north Norfolk, all of which are crucial to the overall scheme.

Most onshore constructions are complete. The substation at Salle, which will feed the electricity generated by the turbines into the national grid, is complete and ready for commissioning. The onshore cabling is also finished, and the land under which it is buried is in the process of being handed back to individual landowners.

One of the important improvements for Scira is the new commercial outer jetty, and the deepened channel that is performed by Wells Harbour and will allow the use of the tidal harbour on a greatly extended daily basis. This facility is crucial to the maintenance of the turbines, which will be inspected on a daily basis to ensure maximum output. To keep the channel open, it will be dredged on a regular basis.

Since it opened in May, Scira's office and information point in Staithe Street, Wells, has welcomed hundreds of visitors, most of whom have shown a very positive interest in the project. One of Scira's priorities has been to keep people informed, and having an office that is open 6 days a week and where information is readily available, has been appreciated.

The last, important onshore construction, a new O&M base, is still in the planning stage. Scira has identified a suitable site at Egmere, just two miles south of Wells, and planning consent has been applied for. If granted, work will begin during the first quarter of 2011. This will be the base where wind farm workers will go each day to change for their offshore duties. A minibus will take them to the harbour, where they will embark for the journey to sea. This arrangement has been designed to minimise the impact of increased traffic flow into Wells, which has been a cause of concern.

Offshore activity has increased significantly since the last briefing, with the arrival of a number of large vessels that are often clearly visible from land. Some come and go, bringing rocks that were placed round the foundations to reduce the risk of scour, and the monopile foundation and transition pieces from Vlissingen in the Netherlands.

Three vessels are engaged in laying the export cables that will bring the power from the wind farm to landfall at Weybourne Hope. Atlantic Guardian cleared the debris, Team Oman laid the cables themselves and VOS Sympathy performed the trenching. The installation of the infield cables will continue in 2011.

The vessel that has attracted much interest and speculation is the Svanen, a self-powered, heavy-duty floating crane that arrived on site in April. Svanen, which means Swan in Norwegian, has been used to drive the first foundation monopiles 32-36 metres into the seabed and mount the yellow-painted transition pieces on top. It is now decommissioned for the season and is scheduled to be replaced by a different vessel in 2011.

To date, 20 foundations with transition pieces are in place, including two for the offshore substations, and the rest will follow during 2011.

The first turbine is expected in August, and the project is on course to be fully operational in 2012.

For more information please visit the website: www.scira.co.uk.

An installed transistion piece
The Svanen
Vanguard guard/support vessel
Outer Harbour