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Wind farm shortage  

The sight of another wind farm off Walney has been put back for at least a year because the Americans have nabbed all the available wind turbines from European makers.

Ian Hatton, managing director of Eclipse Energy, which is behind the £280m, world’s first, combined wind farm and natural gas field, said the project’s wind farm will not be up and running seven miles off Walney until at least 2010. One reason was the queue behind the Americans for turbines from the world’s main manufacturers in Denmark and Germany.

The Ormonde project consists of 30 giant wind turbines and two small marginal gas fields both of which will feed power into systems on offshore platforms which will then send electricity 40 kilometres by cable to the National Grid at Heysham.

Eclipse which has 80 private shareholders says it is confident it can raise the cash from financial institutions partly because the combination of gas and wind means Ormonde will be able to deliver consistent supplies whether the wind blows or not.

The company is looking to place contracts for the work and for the turbines in the last quarter of this year.

Mr Hatton said: “It is not possible to get even one turbine for love or money for two years because of all the investment in the US.”

He said the US government is offering generous tax credits to get people there developing onshore wind farms.

He said it would be a problem getting kit before October 2010, but Eclipse was looking at the feasibility of getting the gas site running first in 2009.

Mr Hatton told a packed meeting at the Chetwynde Hotel organised by the Barrow and District Association of Engineers, that Ormonde planned to use giant five megawatt turbines towering 520ft high from sea level to blade tip.

It may also go for a pioneering method of turbine installation patented by The Engineering Business Ltd of Northumberland which assembles towers, turbines and blades on shore and carries them out to sea in a high cradle to install as one piece.

Only the foundation piles go out separately. The Engineering Business says it is a simpler cheaper way of operating instead of installing turbines in separate bits. It is talking with Eclipse.


26 March 2007

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