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Rush repairs on wobbling wind farm  

Credit:  Whitstable Times, www.thisiskent.co.uk 23 March 2012 ~~

Wind turbines whirring off the Whitstable coast are getting wobbly and need welding work, operator Vattenfall has admitted.

The news was leaked after a closed-doors meeting between the Kentish Flats operator and Whitstable Harbour Board.

Workers will need to ship 180 large steel brackets from the harbour out to the turbines to shore them up – with six of the metre-tall steel plates being welded to the base of each machine.

But the company insists there is no risk to man nor beast – and added that the Vestas-made turbines are being repaired for free as they are still in their warranty period.

Vattenfall spokesman Jason Ormiston said: “Vattenfall has decided to do some remedial works on the foundations of the Kentish Flats Offshore Wind Farm.

“These remedial works are scheduled during the spring and summer to make use of the offshore weather windows and therefore minimise working downtime. The remedial works are taking place to secure the long-term theoretical lifetime of the foundations.

“The remedial works are required because a small settlement of the grout between the monopile and the transition piece has occurred in the past six to seven years with most of the turbines.

“Vattenfall can confirm that this small settlement in the turbine structure poses no risk to people, the turbines and the environment.

“Also, that electricity generation at the wind farm has not been affected in any way.”

The work could provide a cash boost for Whitstable Harbour as the boats carrying out the work will have to pay port fees.

Harbour master Mike Wier said: “Whitstable Harbour has established a close working relationship with the renewable sector, providing operations and maintenance support for both the Kentish Flats and London Array wind farms.

“The harbour provides support in vessel berthing facilities, office and storage space and the provision of fuel oil, fresh water and stores.”

The £105 million wind farm, which went online in September 2005, is designed to operate for 20 years.

The gearboxes on all the turbines were replaced in 2008 after a design fault was discovered.

Source:  Whitstable Times, www.thisiskent.co.uk 23 March 2012

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