Environmental Surveys Begin at Two Offshore Wind Sites in the UK Leased to BP and EnBW

BP and EnBW had won the British government’s auction to lease offshore wind developments in the Irish Sea; pending approvals, the companies have planned two wind farms with a capacity of 3GW

Energie Baden-Württemberg AG’s headquarters at Karlsruhe, Germany. Credit: EnBW website

Energie Baden-Württemberg AG’s headquarters at Karlsruhe, Germany. Credit: EnBW website

Surveys have begun at the site of a 3GW offshore wind project in the UK which is being constructed by a consortium of British Petroleum (BP) and Energie Baden-Württemberg AG (EnBW), a German energy company. Being called the GW Yellow North and South Offshore Wind Project, the project is spread across two sites off the coasts of North West England and North Wales.

The British government had announced BP and EnBW as the winners of the Round 4 auctions for Offshore Wind conducted this February. The two sites have been leased to BP and EnBW for a period of 60 years. Following the government’s announcement, Crown Estate, the entity responsible for the UK’s seabed estates stated its plant to conduct a Plan-Level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) study. Subject to its successful outcome, agreements for the lease will be finalised by the middle of next year.

The geophysical, geotechnical and environmental (benthic) survey will begin on 27 June. A survey vessel, designed specially for the purpose has been commissioned: Ocean Resolution. From July to August, Ocean Resolution will carry on board 2DUHR (sparker) equipment, Sub-bottom Profiler (SBP), Sidescan Sonar (SSS) and Magnetometer equipment, some of which will be towed approximately 150 metres astern of the vessel.

Some methods being used by the surveyors include using drop-down cameras to grab samples at close to 90 locations. From September, surveyors will begin conducting Cone Penetration Tests at up to approximately 40 locations at both sites in the Irish Sea. The survey will limit itself to the main offshore arrays including a 3-kilometre buffer. The sites leased to BP and EnBW are situated at a distance of approximately 30 kilometres off the coast of North West England and North Wales in water depths ranging from 35 to 40 metres. The first site is enclosed in an area of around 300 kilometres, and the second site is around 500 kilometres. The GW Yellow North and South Offshore Wind Project has an expected capacity of 3GW which also happens to be the maximum award possible under the British government’s rules for leasing sites for offshore wind development.