Hunterston Turbine Bows Out

SSE Renewables has successfully led the decommissioning of the last remaining test turbine at the Hunterston National Offshore Turbine Test Facility today in North Ayrshire as Scotland prepares to embrace the next chapter in the development of its offshore wind capabilities and expertise.

Following six years of testing, the 6MW Siemens turbine was safely brought down to the ground with minimum local disruption in an operation by lead decommissioning contactors, Keltbray, and under the supervision of SSE Renewables. The operation involved a controlled felling using explosive charges.

The Hunterston National Offshore Turbine Test Facility has been instrumental over the past 6 years in providing key data and testing technology which enabled the deployment of 84 turbines at Beatrice Offshore Windfarm in the Moray Firth. At 588MW and built in depths of up to 60m in the North Sea, 13km off the coast of Caithness, Beatrice is Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm, and the fourth largest in the world. Beatrice was officially opened in July by HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay. It is generating enough green energy to power 450,000 homes every year and save around 8 million tonnes of harmful carbon emissions over its expected 25-year lifetime operation, playing a crucial role in the UK’s efforts to combat climate change.

Commenting today, Jeremy Williamson, Director of Operations for SSE Renewables, said: “Today marks the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another as we embark on the next exciting phase of Scotland’s renewable energy revolution. Scotland has been at the forefront of innovation in renewable energy for the past two decades, and the Siemens turbine at Hunterston has played an important role in that innovation. Without the learnings that we took from Hunterston, we may not have been able to develop Beatrice Offshore Windfarm in the way that we did, which today is the fourth largest in the world.

“While it is always with a twinge of sadness that we see a piece of engineering such as Hunterston decommissioned, we can also look forward with optimism to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for the renewables sector in Scotland.

“In the last week, SSE Renewables has secured a UK Government contract that will enable it to develop our Seagreen offshore wind farm project in the Firth of Forth. At 1,075MW it will, when it is completed, become Scotland’s largest wind farm. And like Hunterston, it will also afford new opportunities for innovation and learning, and further help to reinforce Scotland’s and Britain’s leadership role in the global offshore wind sector.

“Finally, I would like to thank everyone involved in the decommissioning at Hunterston today for their role in ensuring that the project was completely safely and with minimum stakeholder disruption. It has been another excellent example of teamwork.”

Ross Cowie, Hunterston Project Manager at SSE Renewables, said: “I’m very pleased that we have been able to safely complete the decommissioning of the last remaining test turbine at Hunterston. Our original intention was to dismantle the components of the turbine by crane. However, a suitable method of doing so safely could not be established. As a result, it was agreed by all parties involved in the project that the safest method possible for decommissioning the unit in the timeframe required under planning conditions was to utilise a controlled felling.”

Over the coming weeks the turbine will be dismantled and removed from site as part of ongoing works to decommission the overall facility and, where possible, components will be processed for re-use.