Seabed surveys start for 2 GW ScotWind offshore wind projects
Thistle Wind Partners (TWP) has launched seabed surveys for its 1 GW Ayre floating offshore wind farm and the 1 GW Bowdun offshore wind farm in Scotland.
G-tec is leading the first phase of the work, which is the geophysical surveying of the seabed at both sites, in leasing zones NE2 and E3, from March to October of this year.
G-tec is supported by GAC UK’s Aberdeen and Orkney offices for vessel logistics while Newcastle-headquartered Cathie is providing advisory services.
Over the next seven months, the survey vessel will cover an area of almost 400 square kilometres, as it uses technology to collect data on the structure of the seabed at both project sites.
G-tec will conduct advanced processing of the data, which will then feed into ground modelling studies from October onwards, while metocean surveys begin around the same time.
TWP is expected to complete its Front-End Engineering Designs (Pre-FEED) phase for the two ScotWind projects by mid-2024, with a second round of geophysical and geotechnical studies planned for next year to inform the FEED for the offshore wind farms.
“We plan to enter the construction phase in 2029, and like all ScotWind developers, we do get questions about why we have chosen a particular timeframe”, said Ian Taylor, Project Director at TWP.
“Bearing in mind that we have a floating wind project in the mix, we are keen to leverage the learnings and enhanced designs and technologies that will be available by the end of the decade. There are still many technical challenges ahead for floating offshore wind. In tandem, each year gives us greater certainty that the local supply chain and port infrastructure will be ready.”
In addition, TWP will continue its two-year-long bird and marine mammal studies which were launched by APEM in March last year.
“We are investing in some of the most advanced monitoring techniques for our environmental studies, such as APEM’s LiDAR technologies for measuring bird flight heights. Taking the time to gather the best data for our final designs ensures that our wind farms have the most harmonious relationship with marine life and other maritime industries”, said Taylor.
A final investment decision for both the Ayre and Bowdun offshore wind projects is planned for 2028 if consent is achieved in 2025.
The Bowdun offshore wind farm, located off the coast of Aberdeenshire, is planned to feature between 50 and 60 wind turbines with an individual capacity of 18-25 MW each, depending upon the final design choice.
The Ayre floating wind farm is located 33 kilometres from the East Mainland of Orkney. This will be a 1 GW floating wind project following a similar base case for turbine numbers and capacity as Bowdun.