- Category: Renewables
- Energy type: Offshore wind
- Project type: Asset
On 7 August 2013, SSE and RWE Innogy welcomed Michael Fallon MP, Energy Minister, to the official opening of the 500MW Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm in Lowestoft, Suffolk.
- £1.6bn investment has delivered 140 turbines capable of providing enough renewable energy to supply around 530,000 homes each year
- three 45km long cables, known as export cables, bringing power onshore
- around 100 permanent jobs created at the £1.5 million operations and maintenance base in Lowestoft – 95% employed from local area
Completion of the commissioning of the turbines is a major milestone for SSE. It is a substantial operating asset contributing a significant amount of electricity to help meet consumer demand and further diversify the UK energy portfolio with a carbon free electricity source in support of low carbon energy objectives.
Michael Fallon MP, Energy Minister officially opened Greater Gabbard wind farm on 7 August 2013.
The 140 wind turbines manufactured by Siemens has three 45km long cables, known as export cables, bringing power onshore. The operations base in Lowestoft employs 100 people.
Please click here to view a video for more information.
We recognise that our investments in new electricity generation benefit from the co-operation of the local community in a variety of ways, particularly during the construction phase. In recognition of this, our policy is to establish long-term funds to support community projects in areas where we are developing generation projects.
Please visit our Community page for more information.
Creating local jobs
Greater Gabbard has been a pioneering project for the UK offshore wind industry, for many years the largest wind farm under development world-wide.
Over 8 million working hours were spent developing and constructing the project. Construction commenced in 2008 and was completed in September 2012.
Around 100 new jobs have been created at the £1.5 million operations and maintenance base in Lowestoft harbour (where around 95% of employees are from the local area).
Here you can read the stories of some of the local team who have helped deliver this important UK renewable energy project.
Tommy Rudd – Wind Operations Technician, SSE Tommy Rudd is a member of the 100-strong wind operations team who help service and maintain Greater Gabbard wind farm from their Lowestoft base. Local to the area, the 25-year old has been with the project since 2011 after spotting an advert in the local paper for a trainee technician position.
The opportunity at Greater Gabbard came along at just the right time for Tommy. A year earlier, he was in the third year of an apprenticeship with local electrical firm, SLP, when the company encountered financial difficulties and entered receivership.
Tommy said: ”After being made redundant from SLP, I took the decision to finish my apprenticeship under my own steam. However, with the way the economy was at that time, I’d resigned myself to the fact that I would have to move away from the area to find suitable work after my studies were complete.
“When I spotted this opportunity I was very interested. It was a new, exciting, industry to get into and the offer of long term work was a big plus for me. After speaking to a family member involved in the renewables area, my mind was made up.”
After completing his traineeship earlier this year and becoming a fully qualified wind operations technician, Tommy travels the 23km to the offshore wind farm every day either by helicopter or workboat to carry out maintenance work on the 140 offshore wind turbines. Activities can range from investigating and repairing a minor fire alarm fault to helping to replace a 33kV transformer.
“I love my job as every day is different and this keeps it interesting and exciting. I am an electrician by trade but I also get involved with hydraulics and mechanical work, which means I’m learning all the time. The team here is great and, given how new the industry is, you really feel that you can progress your career here,” said Tommy.
In building the operations team, SSE, on behalf of the joint venture with RWE, has targeted its recruitment to Lowestoft and the surrounding area, with around 95% of employees recruited locally. Based on his own experience, Tommy has some advice for anyone thinking about a change of career.
“I know it is easy to say, but I would 100% recommend this type of work to anyone with a trade looking for a different career path. With the wind industry growing every year, the opportunities are out there.
“I’m Lowestoft born and bred and think I’m very lucky to have found a rewarding job which allows me to live and work in the town where I grew up. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.”
Richard Clarke – Skipper, Windcat Workboats Richard Clarke has been working for Windcat Workboats for over four years and manages the day to day activities of up to five offshore vessels for Greater Gabbard wind farm.
Before working at Greater Gabbard, Richard spent twenty years as a local fisherman working out of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. He fished from a multi-purpose vessel called the Evening Tide and later became skipper.
He joined Windcat in 2008 just as the wind farm was entering the construction phase and has remained with the team supporting the operations team at their £1.5m base on the site of Lowestoft’s old fish market.
Richard said: "When the work for Greater Gabbard arrived in Lowestoft, the fishing industry was in terrible decline. A lot of us were being forced out of the fishing industry due to fish quotas and the wind farm came along at the right time. It’s brought a lot of jobs to the area and many of the fishermen are now working as skippers for Windcat.
"I first read about the project in a local newspaper and that they’d be looking to transport workers out by boat. I thought, that’s a great job for me, out in the fresh air and out at the sea, which I love doing."
The wind farm vessels are used to transport the technicians from Lowestoft to the various turbines to carry out essential maintenance work and then back again at the end of the day. After joining the Windcat team, Richard received specialist offshore training and had to adjust to different skills and a focused approach to health and safety.
Richard said: “The wind farm vessels are completely different from what I was used to driving. There is a lot of skill required in stopping underneath a wind turbine, especially in the weather conditions we can get out here.”
Ultimately, it’s the effect the development has had on the local area that’s made a lasting impression, as Richard explains:
“It’s great to see a buzz around the old fish market area again – with lots of activity and people getting on with their jobs. Before all this came it was like a ghost town.
As you can see from the above map Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm sits off the coast of Suffolk and consists of 140 wind turbines manufactured by Siemens. For more information on Greater Gabbard please download our brochure.
Offshore site plans
View plans of the offshore site.
Sailing and fishing activities
For guidelines on sailing and fishing activities within the Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm, please click here.
Section 105(2) of the Energy Act 2004 requires the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to approve a Decommissioning Programme for the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm before construction can commence. We received approval in October 2007 and a copy of the Decommissioning Programme is available for download.
The non-technical summary of the project is available for download.
The principle contractor for the project was Fluor and the wind turbines were manufactured by Siemens.