Danish offshore wind energy developer Ørsted officially opened the 573 megawatt (MW) Race Bank Offshore Wind Farm Wednesday, which will provide over half a million UK homes with clean electricity.
The Race Bank Offshore Wind Farm has had something of a long history, and was only pulled out of trouble in late 2013 when DONG Energy (now known as Ørsted) acquired 100% ownership in the project from British multinational energy and services company Centrica.
“Race Bank fits very well into our existing pipeline of offshore wind projects and will contribute to the achievement of our strategic target of constructing 6,500 MW by 2020,” said Samuel Leupold, Executive Vice President of DONG Energy Wind Power, at the time. “The addition of up to 580 MW to our UK project portfolio underlines our commitment to the UK market in general, and to the UK offshore wind sector in particular.”
A year and a half later, DONG Energy awarded a wind turbine order to Siemens (now Siemens Gamesa) to provide 91 of its 6 MW wind turbines for the project. Located 32 kilometers off the British eastern coast, Race Bank was one of the big projects announced through the early part of this decade, but has since been eclipsed by much larger projects with much bigger wind turbines.
At the end of 2016, DONG Energy divested 50% ownership in the project to the Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 5 and Macquarie Capital, the principal investment arm of Macquarie Group in a deal that was worth £1.6 billion ($1.2 billion).
And finally, at the beginning of February this year, Ørsted announced that Race Bank had reached full power output across all of its 91 wind turbines and had already generated 1 terawatt-hour (TWh) of power since construction had begun.
The project was therefore officially opened at a ceremony in Grimsby on Wednesday, home to Ørsted’s East Coast Hub, the UK’s largest offshore wind Operations and Maintenance (O&M) base. The project, beyond being a massive provider of clean electricity, also makes use of a new way of carrying out offshore maintenance, using a Service Operation Vessel that remains offshore with technicians working 14 days and 14 days off.
“Race Bank is a fantastic infrastructure project and underlines Ørsted’s contribution to the UK’s energy transition. It’s also another clear signal of our firm commitment to Grimsby and the Humber, and the UK supply chain for offshore wind,” said Matthew Wright, Managing Director at Ørsted UK. “Race Bank is a hugely significant and innovative project, featuring the first-ever turbine blades to be made in Hull and becoming our first wind farm in the UK to be operated using a new Service Operation Vessel. It’s also one of the fastest projects we have ever built, with a fantastic safety record, and this is testament to the hard work of the project team and the great relationship we have with our partners.
“Powering over half a million homes every year, Race Bank is another positive step towards delivering the UK’s decarbonised energy system of the future.”