Questions and answers

Over the course of the development and construction of Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, we have had hundreds of questions so we have selected the most common to be answered on this page. If you have a question that is not covered here or elsewhere on the website, feel free to submit it.

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Construction

Where is the wind farm site and what is the site area?

The offshore wind farm site is located in the English Channel, off the Sussex coast and extends from approximately 13km to 20km offshore, occupying an irregular elongated area, approximately 19km in an east to west direction and approximately 7km in the north to south direction. The site has an overall area of 72km2, reduced from the consented area of 122km2, which in turn was reduced from 167km2 following refinements to the scheme during the consultation and examination process. These refinements were designed to reduce the visual impact from the Heritage Coast, minimise deviation for vessels using the local route from the Traffic Separation Scheme to Shoreham Port and to reduce the impact on commercial fishing.

Where is the construction project-managed from?

The project management facility for construction is located at Newhaven Port. This is due to portside availability, flexibility of space and ease of access to the Rampion site. However, the port also offers continuity throughout construction and into operation as the operations and maintenance base will also be at Newhaven Port.

Will other sea users still be able to use the Rampion sea area or will there be an exclusion zone?

For safety reasons, during construction there would be a 500-metre safety zone placed around the area under construction. The details of the safety zones have been notified to sea users throughout the construction. Once the wind farm is operational, most sea users will be able to continue commercial and recreational use of the sea area as before. However, a limited number of larger commercial vessels may choose not to navigate through the wind farm.

What is the lifetime of the scheme?

The design life of offshore wind turbines is between 20-25 years although the lease we have with The Crown Estate (the landlord of the seabed) extends to 50 years. Therefore, when the turbines are reaching the end of their natural working life, we will decide whether to refurbish the scheme with the same turbines or whether to re-power the site with the latest technology at that point in time.

Jobs, benefits and community

How many people are at work on the offshore / onshore construction at peak?

On average, there have been 250 to 300 people working on the offshore site, around 60 to 100 working on the onshore cable route split into teams working on separate sections, and 40-60 working on the onshore substation. The exact number of jobs created during construction has been influenced by the phasing of the roll-out of the scheme and will also be dependent on the lead construction contractors. At its peak period there were 550 people working offshore.

Around 60 full time jobs will be created at the project management facility in Newhaven Port and we will utilise locally sourced vessels for the 3-year construction period.

How many jobs will be created during operation?

Once operational, Rampion will have around 60 full time, permanent roles based at the operations & maintenance base in Newhaven Port, to manage and maintain the site. In additional to the directly employed workforce, the operation of the wind farm will give rise to opportunities for indirect local employment in the form of up to 30 support service contracts and other local expenditure.

How did you encourage local content and jobs?

We continue to use local companies where possible in this project. In developing the project proposal a number of contracts were placed with local suppliers in respect of providing the met mast and installation, geotechnical site investigations, ecological survey vessels, guard boats, Fishing Industry Representatives, PR support, offshore ecology survey work, and E.ON’s own Rampion Development Manager has been sourced locally.

We worked in partnership with local authorities, forming a Supply Chain Steering Group to support a Supply Chain Project led by Marine South East (MSE). The work of the Steering Group was aimed at identifying the local supply chain and maximising opportunities for local companies who may be able to tender for Rampion work. This project identified more than 600 local businesses with the capability to supply products and services to Rampion, and culminated in Meet the Buyer Events and the launch of the web portal, www.sussexwindenergy.org.uk, which went live in September 2013 to provide Rampion Project updates, promote local grant programmes and opportunities for recruitment and skills development. The web portal allows local businesses to register their details on a suppliers’ database, to express an interest in supplying goods and services to Rampion and its contractors.

The local suppliers’ database is highlighted in the Invitation to Tender documents and contractors have been asked to identify any proposed UK and local suppliers in their tender responses.

In supporting local content for operations and maintenance related jobs, we place local job adverts, require the turbine manufacture to advertise locally to recruit technicians where possible, and have already recruited a number of apprentices into full time operations staff.

Will you support community benefit projects?

Our policy with regards to community benefits is to ensure that we are a good neighbour to the local community and our majority shareholder has a track record on existing offshore wind farms of working with communities and supporting local initiatives and projects. The exact geographical scope and distribution of such initiatives will be carefully considered in view of the spatial extent of the project and those communities most associated with the project. For example we have committed to a community benefit fund for the residents who live in close proximity to the proposed onshore substation, as the only permanent above ground structure on land.

We are currently finalising our wider community benefit fund which will be launched in late 2017.

Are you planning to have a local Visitor Centre?

At this stage it is our intention to have a Visitor Centre somewhere on the Sussex Coast to support the local tourist economy and increase awareness of the Rampion wind farm and education about offshore wind energy. The Scroby Sands Visitor Centre in Great Yarmouth has been a great success, attracting around 40,000 visitors each year.

The Rampion Visitor Centre will be located between the eastern and westernmost points of the site, with a clear view of the wind farm and in an area with high visitor footfall.

What CO2 savings will the scheme deliver?

We estimate that the project could avoid the emission of almost 600,000 tonnes1 CO2 per year (587,000 tonnes), which would otherwise have been released through fossil fuelled power generation. We know this because electricity generation and demand is actively balanced, every minute of every day by National Grid, to ensure that supply and demand are always precisely matched. Since wind energy is accepted onto the grid as and when it generates, conventional generators are required to reduce their generation and in turn the amount of fuel and CO2 released. Therefore we can calculate how much CO2 would have been emitted from the fossil fuel generators displaced.

1 Every unit (kWh) of electricity produced by the wind displaces a unit of electricity, which would otherwise have been produced by a power station burning fossil fuel. This is a generally accepted fact used by many organisations including Government in their environmental calculations. Wind-generated electricity does not replace electricity from nuclear power stations because these operate at 'base load', that is they will be working for the whole time that they are available. The calculation is made using a static figure of 430g CO2/kWh representing the energy mix in the UK.

Safety

Can I film the wind farm with a drone?

Guidelines for drone usage at or near Rampion Offshore Wind Farm
Safety is always the first issue to consider and it is the drone operators’ responsibility to comply with the Drone Code, as published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Drones must be kept:-
1) at least 150 metres from working vessels and people at site, both offshore and onshore.
2) at least 50m from wind turbines and offshore substation
3) within sight of the operator
If the drone is being operated from a vessel, the vessel itself must stay out of the statutory 500m Safety Zone around construction activities on wind turbines and the offshore substation.
The drone operator will be held responsible for any incident or damage arising from failure to comply with the above.

Planning and consent

Technical details

What model and how many turbines are you installing and what is the layout?

The final wind farm area will feature 116 x 3.45MW turbines. This decision was largely driven by the findings of our geotechnical surveys to understand the seabed conditions, which turned out to be challenging in some areas of the site. In total the scheme will contribute 400MW of newly installed electrical capacity to the UK’s energy mix.

The turbine layout is a regular grid matrix with a minimum spacing between the turbines of at least 750 m and including one offshore substation. The final layout was signed off by the relevant statutory bodies.

How much power will Rampion generate?

The 400MW of installed electrical capacity will generate almost 1,400 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power output each year from a clean, renewable energy source. This is enough power to supply the equivalent of almost 350,000 UK homes each year for the lifetime of the project.

What type of foundations were used?

They were monopile foundations to support all the turbines in the final layout, with a jacket foundation being employed for the offshore substation.

What is the final onshore design?

The onshore cable route is defined by the DCO as a 40m corridor within which we are restricted to a 30m working width. The onshore surveys helped with refining the working width to avoid ecologically sensitive areas, such as mature trees, and in particularly sensitive areas (pinch points) we reduced the working width to 15m for short distances to reduce the impact on hedgerows.

The optimised scheme of 400MW has allowed us to reduce the number of circuits from four to two. However, did still require the haul road, topsoil and subsoil storage areas and we need to retain sufficient distance between the circuits to meet thermal conductivity requirements.

How much has the wind farm cost?

The capital investment from development through to construction and commissioning is likely to be in region of £1bn - £1.2bn.