Blog 11 Jan 2024

Bracing ourselves for a busy year in 2024, TWP has conducted an intense recruitment drive, increasing our staff base in Scotland threefold over the past six months. That tells you something about the pace of development ahead for our two Scottish projects (Ayre, a floating wind project to the east of Orkney, and Bowdun, a fixed-foundation project off the Aberdeenshire coast).

Let’s look at the tasks ahead in 2024. And if you’re new to offshore wind development, this is a good taster of the sheer graft involved even before a turbine approaches the water (for our projects that will be in 2029).

Data Bonanza!

We’re about to complete the marine bird and mammal surveys at both project sites. This has been a two-year labour of love as contractor APEM has deployed small airplanes to fly over the zones (imagine a lawnmower going backwards and forwards) to track animal movements and behavioural patterns using LiDAR (accurate to within 10cm, an industry gold standard). The data will be published in each project’s EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) in 2025 to support our offshore consent application as well as informing our wind farm designs and planning.

The geophysical (seabed structural) surveys will wind up in Q2 (weather depending!) as our survey vessels have been doing the same hoovering trick over the seabed, using all kinds of sensors (see what they look like in our explainer video), overseen by G-tec’s team of geophysicists.

We then move on to crunching this data to identify the areas of seabed that we’d like to avoid for turbine installation and cables. That could be due to compacted rock (a key feature of the Scottish seabed which makes development more difficult and costly than in the southern North Sea), and various obstacles (historic wrecks, for example, of which there are some 15,000 around Scotland’s coasts).

Onshore surveys over our cable routes between export power cable landfalls and the onshore substation grid connection points will commence in February which will provide the required data to support our onshore design activities and planning applications.

Added to that will be the intelligence we have gathered from liaison with fishing businesses along the coastline (from our Fisheries Liaison Officer at Blackhall & Powis), which will also inform the array layout and ensure we keep disruption to a minimum.

Upcoming Reports

All of our Scoping Reports – an onshore and offshore report for each project – will be submitted this year (the first one, an onshore report for Ayre is due out in the coming weeks). These reports will be publicly available and will outline all the possible options for turbines, foundations, array design, cable routes and onshore substations). There are several more years of design ahead to narrow this ‘envelope’ of possibilities down to the final design.

Another mammoth task for our Consents Team and contractor RPS will be to undertake and compile the EIAs mentioned earlier, to support the onshore planning applications and the offshore Section 36 consent and marine licence applications. This process is a key requirement to show how we will engineer our projects so that they have minimal environmental impact.

Working with Local Communities

Our grid connection points for the wind farms will be in Caithness (for Ayre) and Aberdeenshire (for Bowdun)*.

You can see the search area for cable routes and the onshore substation in our virtual room for Ayre. Following our exhibition bus tour and events in Wick, Thurso, Keiss, Spittal and Halkirk in November, we will return in the summer with a proposed design for community consultation.

For Bowdun, we are at an earlier stage due to a change in proposed location of the transmission operator substation in Aberdeenshire. We now know that our substation will connect near to Fetteresso and we continue to investigate landfall and cable corridor options as well as substation locations. We’ll put our outline designs to the community for feedback and discussion this summer.

We hope to submit our onshore planning applications for substations and cable routes to for Ayre to the Highland Council this year. For Bowdun, we will submit an application to Aberdeenshire Council next year.  Offshore applications to Scotland’s Marine Directorate for both projects are scheduled for the summer of 2025.

Supply Chain Engagement

Preliminary Front-End Engineering Design (Pre-FEED) provides a concept for each project’s offshore installations and onshore electrical infrastructure. It is also the point when our engineers will put some estimated costs on the table. It is an important step in project development as it allows us to sharpen up discussions with potential suppliers of key components.

This year, DEME Offshore will begin working actively with TWP on our supply chain engagement. The company is the EPCI contractor for both projects (Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Installation) and has a long history in the UK (we estimate that DEME has had a hand in the procurement or installation of around half of UK offshore wind farm projects to date (across cables, foundations and turbine installation).

DEME Offshore TWP’s supply chain targets (£2.4 billion expenditure in the Scottish supply chain and £3.3 billion across the UK as a whole) as they seek sub-contractors.

 

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*Pending confirmation from National Grid ESO in the coming weeks

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