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Lloyds List: Pioneering windfarm could be doomed (*yes, Shell is a partner in the debacle)

Nigel Green in Newcastle, Lloyds List
Published: Jan 23, 2007

A PIONEERING windfarm off the coast of northeast England may have to be dismantled after being plagued by technical problems.

The news comes after revelations that the two turbines installed around half a mile off the Port of Blyth in Northumberland have not been working since March last year.

The failure has been blamed on power cables bolted to the seabed being severed.

The 100 m tall turbines, which cost GBP4m ($8m) when they were installed in 2000, were part of the first offshore windfarm in Britain.

They each generate 2 mW and are owned by a consortium of companies, including German power company E.ON, Anglo-Dutch oil group Shell and engineering firm Amec.

Just two years after being installed, one of them was hit by lightning and the turbines had to be closed down while one of the 33 m blades was removed and repaired.

Now it has been revealed that the power cables, which are approximately 1 ft thick, have been cut. Engineers are not certain whether they have been struck by a vessel or just suffered general wear and tear.

However, the owners believe it may not be worth the cost of repairing and burying the cables and the turbines may have to be dismantled and used elsewhere.

An E.ON spokesman said: ‘This was all about learning lessons. This was the first offshore windfarm and it was never built to be a big cash cow. It’s a new industry and we are learning all the time.

‘But it’s a question of economics. If this was a 30-turbine windfarm, it would be worth fixing the cable. As it is, we may have to dismantle them.

‘If we do, it will be the first time an offshore windfarm has been dismantled.’

The spokesman said the company’s 30-turbine windfarm at Scroby Sands, off Norfolk, which was built in 2004, used buried cables and was not affected by these problems.

The company also has plans for a 60-turbine windfarm at Robin Rigg off the coast of Cumbria.

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