Lowestoft-based Cefas wins contract from proposed wind farm off Norfolk coast

A seagull flies through the turbines of an offshore wind farm. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

A seagull flies through the turbines of an offshore wind farm. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

The builders of what could be the world's biggest wind farm have handed a contract to Lowestoft's Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).

The organisation will measure offshore weather and sea conditions for the Norfolk Vanguard project being proposed by Swedish energy group Vattenfall, under a deal which will secure 12 jobs for three years.

Cefas will explore the oceanographic processes exerted on the turbine structures of Vattenfall offshore wind farm, which will have a capacity of 1.8GW.

Ruari Lean, Vattenfall's project manager for the Norfolk Vanguard project, said: 'We are very pleased to be able to secure work for 12 employees in East Anglia. Cefas is a world-leading scientific centre providing oceanographic services and we are lucky to have them on Norfolk Vanguard's doorstep.'

Dr David Pearce, principal investigator for Cefas, said: 'The UK's world-leading offshore wind industry is growing rapidly and Cefas, and our staff, will play an important role in that growth. We're delighted to win this major contract with Vattenfall to support Norfolk Vanguard's sustainable development.'

Dr Zoe Roberts of Vattenfall added: 'A key element of developing any offshore wind farm is understanding the meteorological and oceanographic regime at the development site. The data collected during this three-year campaign will ensure structures are strong enough to survive in the offshore environment but not over-engineered, thereby minimising costs.'

The measurement campaign will provide data for an in-depth oceanographic assessment of the wind farm development zone. This will be used to understand the pressures the marine environment in that area of the North Sea will place on the turbines' structures and enable Vattenfall to select an appropriate design for the Norfolk Vanguard development.

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Vattenfall says, at capacity, Norfolk Vanguard will be capable every year of delivering nearly 2% of UK demand with fossil-fuel free electricity. The proposed site is 47km from the Norfolk coast at Great Yarmouth. Vattenfall expects to apply for consent for Norfolk Vanguard in 2018 and hopes to begin construction in the early 2020s.