A new offshore wind farm is under construction off the most easterly tip of the UK. As well as powering around 336,000 homes it is leading the way in using the latest technology, accessing lower-cost finance and creating real and lasting economic benefits for the UK and our coastal communities.
The 336 MW wind farm is expected to generate enough renewable electricity to power more than 336,000 homes.
Around 2,000 jobs are expected to be created during construction with close to 100 long-term operational positions being created on completion.
Peel Ports, Great Yarmouth has been chosen as the Siemens’ wind turbine tower assembly location and installation base for the project. The blades for this type of turbine will soon be produced from a new manufacturing plant in Hull.
To maximise power output the project will utilise the latest 6MW offshore wind turbines. Each turbine will reach a maximum blade tip height of 180.5m above sea level.
About the project
The UK remains a world leader in offshore wind power. British waters currently host 28 operating projects with three more in construction and many more in the pipeline.
Galloper is one of the most recent to begin construction. Located 27km off the Suffolk Coast in water around 30m deep, the £1.5bn project consists of 56 of the world’s largest and most advanced turbines in commercial operation. The project delivers a number of innovations which are vital to securing the industry’s long term growth and success in the UK.
First, reducing the cost of producing energy. This requires improvements in technology, supply chain and reducing the cost of finance used to develop and build each project. Lower-cost debt finance was secured for the project before construction started – this is the first time that this approach had been used in offshore wind in the UK.
Secondly, securing the UK supply chain benefits from an industry that is expected to attract £20bn investment by 2020. The Galloper project will use components manufactured and assembled in the UK, UK companies are providing services to construct the project and – once built - the operations and management of the project will be conducted from the UK.
Thirdly, ensuring that neighbouring coastal communities benefit. Galloper is working with local businesses, harbours, colleges and communities to engage them in and benefit from the long-term management of the project.
Lowering the cost of capital
The UK offshore wind industry is working across a number of fronts to lower the cost of energy production. Costs are falling quickly with progress each year.
The reduction in cost has been and will continue to be driven by progress with technology, the supply chain and finance.
One way of achieving access to lower cost capital is to bring debt finance – cheaper than equity investment – into projects at an earlier stage. The Galloper financing was pioneering in that respect due to the early work of the four equity investors (including GIB) to de-risk the project.
This meant that the project was able to attract a consortium of 12 commercial banks and the European Investment Bank at Final Investment Decision.
This made Galloper the UK’s first ever construction-ready offshore wind finance project. Two further projects – Beatrice and Dudgeon – have subsequently adopted the same financing approach.
Supporting the UK supply chain
The UK enjoys a world-leading position in offshore wind in terms of installed capacity, but has been slower to secure the economic benefits from a home-grown supply chain and manufacturing base. We are now starting to see this change.
The Galloper project will use the same type of 75m long turbine blades that will soon be produced in Siemens’ new £160m wind turbine manufacturing and installation facility in Hull. Peel Ports, Great Yarmouth has been chosen as the Siemens’ wind turbine tower assembly location and installation base for the project.
Marine and oilfield services companies across the UK are repurposing their existing operations to take advantage of the opportunities in offshore wind. For example, a new entrant to the offshore wind market - James Fisher and Sons plc - has been appointed to deliver offshore and marine services during Galloper’s construction phase. This includes construction site set-up, marine co-ordination, marine management system, crew transfer vessels, vessel refuelling and emergency response services.
Galloper has also employed Heerema Hartlepool Ltd to manufacture and build the topside and jacket for the project’s offshore substation and its jacket foundation. JDR Cables, another Hartlepool-based business, will provide the array cables that link the project’s turbines to that substation.
The turbine operations and servicing will be overseen by Siemens’ wind power operations centre, based in Newcastle.
It is expected that 2,000 jobs will be created in the project construction phase and around 100 locally-based new jobs in long-term operations and management.
Strengthening local economies
Offshore wind is helping breathe new life into Britain’s coastal communities. The former Shell base in the Port of Lowestoft will be the nerve centre for the entire Galloper offshore construction operation; a staging area for the transportation of people and equipment. This will require a significant number of vessels, often skippered by people previously employed in the local fishing industry.
The creation of an operations and maintenance base on the East coast of England– the location of which is yet to be announced – will create a long-term onshore hub for the project and the base for around 100 full-time jobs.
Galloper has also provided two young people from Lowestoft Sixth Form College with internships, equipping them with knowledge, skills and experience of the offshore wind sector. The East Coast Energy Internship scheme was established by The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Ogden Trust and Suffolk County Council in association with Waveney District Council.
The project has also established a community fund providing grants to contribute to the appearance, setting, conservation, amenity, accessibility and enjoyment of the Suffolk coast and heaths area of outstanding natural beauty as well as another community fund specifically for the Leiston and Sizewell areas close to the project’s onshore infrastructure.
The wind farm is being constructed by Galloper Wind Farm Ltd, a project company owned by the wind farm’s equity investors: RWE Innogy UK, Macquarie Capital, Siemens Financial Services and UK Green Investment Bank plc.*
*Through a wholly-owned subsidiary
The project is also being supported by a consortium of commercial banks, plus the European Investment Bank. Sumitomo Corporation has subsequently become an indirect shareholder in the project, investing alongside Macquarie Capital.