The Creation of Rampion Wind Farm

With traditional energy sources often causing pollution and damaging the environment, the government and other environmental bodies are slowly trying to phase them out and install renewable energy sources, such as on and off-shore wind farms, tidal generators and hydroelectric plants. Off-shore wind farms are some of the most effective renewable sources of energy, thanks to the vast amount of wind present over the sea, and the sheer number of turbines that can be installed with little concern for planning issues. One such wind farm is the Rampion Wind Farm, located off the Sussex coast near Brighton.

Construction of the wind farm technically started in 2015, when a new substation was built next to National Grid Bolney, which is near Twineham. This required a lot of effort and time, as well as lift testing equipment, such as beam clamps, lifting slings and more. Once the new sub-station was in place, work could begin on the turbines themselves. On-shore wind farms are already a huge under-taking, due to the amount of parts that are needed, such as the propellers, cabling, windmill bodies and the turbines themselves. Each windmill is enormous and requires multiple deliveries before It can be erected.

It is even more difficult creating an off-shore wind farm, as the foundations must be dug into the bottom of the sea to ensure that the windmills remain stable. Obviously, crew and engineers must use boats to deliver components to the site of the farm, as well as to move around the waters when they need to descend to ensure that the windmills are being installed safely. Two vessels, the MPI Discovery and MPI Adventure, were used to transport the components from Esbjerg in Denmark to the site of the wind farm, which is 13 kilometres off the Sussex coast.

Each turbine consists of an 80-metre tower, that weighs around 200 tonnes, three propeller blades, which measure 55 metres each and must be hoisted and connected one at a time, as well as a foundation, a generator and a gearbox, plus the wiring to allow the turbines to transfer the electricity back to an offshore substation. The sheer scale of erecting these giant windmills calls for a large amount of lift testing equipment, as well as extra strong lifting slings and beam clamps to ensure that the components are safely put together.

The turbines were installed in a staggeringly short amount of time, as electric company e-on managed to erect all 116 turbines in just over six months, ahead of their projected schedule. They also laid and buried 112 kilometres of array cables which connect the windmills to the substation.

Despite being located off the coast of Sussex, a northern company were integral to the success of the wind farm. Durham Lifting, a lift testing equipment company specialising in a wide range of custom-built accessories such as beam clamps and lifting slings, were drafted in to create spreader beams for the huge project. Their expertise in subsea apparatus and varied experience made them a clear choice when it came to creating these beams, which needed to be able to bear an enormous amount of weight and handle the length of the piles whilst they were being lifted into place. Their stringent testing process made sure that their spreader beams were used without any issues and were a key factor in the efficiency of the installation.