Scroby windfarm misses power target

Norfolk's Scroby Sands windfarm has failed to hit its power generation target for the second year running - and a below-par performance is already being predicted for this year.

Norfolk's Scroby Sands windfarm has failed to hit its power generation target for the second year running - and a below-par performance is already being predicted for this year.

But Jon Beresford, manager of the 30-turbine windfarm off the Yarmouth coastline, last night declared himself still confident about the future for Scroby Sands, built to power 41,000 homes, and for wind power in general.

After achieving 90pc of its generation target in its first year, the windfarm has failed to match that in its second year figures, which have been submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry (Dti).

Mr Beresford said they had been "unlucky" to suffer a series of teething problems, including generator and gearbox failures, which were unusual for the windfarm industry.

The turbine generators - the components that turn rotation into electricity - had proved unreliable, and more importantly, it could not be predicted when they would fail.

He said: "We are solving the problem by replacing them with a new generator, produced by a different manufacturer, with a proven track record."

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But the fact that 14 of the 30 generators had still to be changed this spring was a key reason why Scroby Sands was unlikely to hit its generating target this year as well.

Mr Beresford said there had also been an issue with gearbox bearings failing, but engineers from the windfarm managing company Vestas had now proposed a technical solution with more durable parts.

The latest production figures, for the year ending in December, had also been hit by a major failure of a specialist cable joint where the marine cable reaches Yarmouth seafront.

Mr Beresford said: "An illustration of how Scroby Sands has been unlucky is the performance of the onshore windfarm at Bloodhill, near Winterton, that I also manage.

"In the last figures, nine of the 10 turbines were available for generation 100pc of the time."

But he said the performance of Scroby Sands needed to be put in the context as only the second offshore windfarm to built in Britain.

He said: "We are learning from Scroby all the time and improving things, and consequently the cost of offshore wind energy is coming down drastically.

"The most important thing is to get windfarms reliable because when you go offshore it is so expensive to carry out work because you have to hire a jack-up barge."

Mr Beresford said the wind energy industry and wind technology were developing at a phenomenal rate as shown by Eon's own experience.

He said: "It has taken 15 years for Eon to acquire 20 windfarms with a 200mgw capacity, but we are already building the Robin Rigg windfarm in the Moray Firth with a capacity of 180mgw, which will almost double that at a stroke.

"And in less than five years we are likely to have the 1000mgw London Array windfarm in the Thames Estuary."

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