This month marked the installation of the first of 116 wind turbines at the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, with the installations set to continue throughout 2017.

The turbines are being installed by a jack up vessel, the MPI Discovery, which will transport the components for eight turbines in each trip from Esbjerg in Denmark to the Rampion site, off the Sussex coast.

Weather dependent, each turbine will take around 24 hours to install from initial positioning at each turbine location and jacking of the vessel.

What's involved  in the installation?

Carrying eight 80 metre towers, eight nacelles and 24 turbine blades, the vessel will install each turbine in turn. First each tower, weighing approximately 200 tonnes, is lifted, positioned and bolted onto each turbine foundation.

Next the nacelle, which houses the generator and gearbox, is lifted and fitted onto the tower, and finally the three blades, each measuring 55m in length, are hoisted and connected one at a time.  A second vessel, the MPI Adventure, will support the installation from June onwards.

Chris Tomlinson, Development and Stakeholder Manager for the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, said: “After seven years of planning, development and initial construction, we are especially proud to have reached this major milestone, which will see the Rampion project really begin to take shape. The first turbine is a powerful symbol of the engineering achievement that Rampion and other offshore wind farms represent.

“Since we completed the foundation installation in November, our multi-skilled teams have continued to install the onshore and offshore electrical infrastructure, and have made final preparations for the turbine construction. Over the coming months the 116 turbines will gradually be installed as we work towards the first generation of electricity later in the year.”

Next steps  

During spring, offshore cabling work will continue. An elevated excavator will be working from Lancing Beach over an estimated eight week period, to backfill the cable duct trenches that were dug along the seabed last year, for the cable installation.

The vehicle will work in calm conditions around the changing tide at a water depth of up to three meters. The offshore substation that transforms the electricity up to 150 kilovolts before transporting it to shore, is also due to be lifted into position on its foundation later in the spring.

Onshore construction of the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) base at Newhaven Port will commence in March. The O&M base will include offices and warehousing and will employ up to 60 full-time, permanent staff and store spare parts and tools to support the maintenance of the turbines.

The 400MW project being built 13km off the Sussex coast by E.ON, the UK Green Investment Bank plc and Canadian energy company Enbridge, will, when complete provide enough electricity to supply almost 347,000 homes a year, equivalent to around half the homes in Sussex. The project is due to be completed and fully operational in 2018.