Fantastic progress continues at England and Wales’ largest onshore wind farm
Vattenfall, the European energy company, and their contractors building Wales’ largest onshore wind farm, are looking forward to a relaxing Christmas as the last of the scheme’s 76 wind turbine foundations are completed this week.
Civil engineering works by the Jones Bros Balfour Beatty joint venture are entering the final phase, with all turbine foundations and onsite access tracks complete. The grid connection works being managed by ABB (and their subcontractors BBUSL and Dawnus) are also progressing very well, with both of the new substations entering the commissioning phase.
Wind turbine supplier Siemens have commenced delivery of the first turbine components, via Swansea Docks, down Fabian Way towards Neath. The loads then continue along the A4061 to site, leaving the public highway at the Tower Colliery Forestry Entrance, at the bottom of the Rhigos Mountain.
Latest figures from the Swedish state-owned developer reveals that well over 600 workers from 60 Welsh companies have helped build the 228MW wind farm so far.
Will Wason, Vattenfall’s Project Director for the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project, said: “We have been constructing the onsite civil and electrical infrastructure at Pen y Cymoedd for almost two years now. It has been a superhuman effort by all of our contractors, and as the last of the foundations are poured, and we start commissioning our substations, we very much look forward to 2016 with the erection of the first wind turbines, and a push towards energisation of the site.”
“And perhaps most excitingly, towards the end of 2016 we hope to generate first power from Wales’ largest onshore wind farm and start making a serious contribution to the UK’s climate change targets.”
Project Manager for the joint venture Eryl Roberts said: “Completing the 76 turbine bases has been a challenging process, and we’re all now looking forward to seeing the turbine construction phase begin.
“The site has a variety of different ground conditions which demanded a lot of planning and preparation before the bases could be constructed, and weather conditions have also been difficult to work with for some time now.
“All of the joint venture team has worked extremely hard to reach this stage of the project on schedule, and I want to thank them for their efforts to date.
“Pen y Cymoedd has given our trainees and apprentices valuable on-site experience, and provided valuable employment opportunities in the local area.”
Ralph Windeatt, Head of Commercial, South Wales said: “ABP’s Port of Swansea is proud to play a role in the delivery of the turbine components for such an important project for the wind energy sector in South Wales.
“The Port of Swansea has established itself in recent years as a major hub for the handling of onshore wind projects. All of our ports in South Wales are committed to being part of the growing renewable energy sector and the Pen y Cymoedd wind energy project is just one of the projects we are involved with. It has not only provided a boost for the onshore wind energy sector in Wales, but the broader community as well.
“We’ve been proud to support the project to date, and now with the arrival of the turbine components through the Port of Swansea, we look forward to seeing the first wind turbines go up in 2016.”
ABB Project Manager Adrian Williams said: “We’re very grateful for the support and cooperation from the community in 2015. It has helped us make major progress on the grid connection, including significant advances on the duct and cable in the A4061 and major deliveries of power transformers to our substations in Rhigos and on the hillside. Work continues to progress towards project completion.”
As construction picked up pace in 2014, Vattenfall was also working with the community and on environmental works. The initial work of a £3M environmental project focussing on the role Welsh mountain peat can play in protecting our atmosphere, is complete. In April last year, the Blade mountain bike trail was opened following a £300,000 investment from Vattenfall. Also, a huge effort was made in raising interest in the £1.8mn annual community investment fund.
Emily Faull, Vattenfall’s Local Communications Officer, featured in local advertising for the fund. Emily said: “We launched local conversation, Power in the Valleys in 2012 and since then we have gathered an amazing array of ideas and comments from 3,000 local people and organisations. The next task is to set up the community interest company and get organised for first payments expected in late 2016/early 2017.
“The £1.8mn annual fund has the potential to support significant local investment and it is everyone’s hope that the fund will help thousands of people in the region for the next 25 years and hopefully leave a legacy for future generations.”
Construction at Pen y Cymoedd started in February last year. Since then more than 60 Welsh contractors have been clearing commercial forest, laying 80km of site tracks and 90km of cable, completing electrical connections and pouring around 50,000 cubic metres of concrete to construct the turbine foundations.
Siemens have now started [30 November] the first of 684 abnormal loads and 228 normal loads delivered to site via Swansea Docks, which will continue until Summer 2016. Turbine installation is due to commence in January and is due to be complete by the end of 2016.