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Turbines remain out of action 

A pioneering offshore wind farm could be out of action for another eight months after a cable broke.

The consortium behind the £4m turbines half a mile off Blyth’s coast are carrying out investigations into how the cable broke on the seabed, forcing the whole system to shut down last year.

The two 93 metre high turbines ““ with 33 metre long blades ““ were launched in December 2000 and instantly became a landmark for the town, as well as a new wave of sea-based electricity-generating turbines.

But the turbines have not worked since March 2006, and could now be out of action until the summer.

It is believed the problem arose after a cable connecting the wind farm to the shore broke after rubbing on the seabed.

It could have been built in a trench but that would have increased the cost of installation.

Now the consortium behind the scheme ““ made up of E.On, Nuon, Amec Wind Energy, and Shell ““ is investigating various options to bring it back on-line.

In a statement, they said: “Problems with the main power cable connecting the two wind turbines off the coast of Blyth to the local power distribution network have forced the turbines to be shut down.

“The cabling is unique in UK waters in that it is not buried under the seabed but instead attached to the seabed.

“The cable was damaged in March 2006 and we are currently evaluating the options to bring the scheme back on-line.

“Due to the offshore nature of the scheme, the difficulties with the weather and sea conditions, we do not expect the scheme to be operational before summer 2007.

David Hodkinson, managing director at Amec Wind Energy, added: “We have a long association with the wind farms at Blyth, where our operations and maintenance team is based, and share the community’s frustration at the length of time the offshore machines have been out of service.

“This wasn’t predicted when built, locating the cable on the seabed was considered acceptable. Obviously it hasn’t been.”

The wind farm on Blyth pier is still operational.

It is the second problem to hit the offshore wind farm. In 2002 it was switched off when lightning damaged a blade while small boats were told to keep clear of the turbines after a collision.


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