In clear weather you can see the turbines out to sea, both in the day and lit up at night. Cleveleys does have a special relationship with them. Here’s more about the Walney Offshore Windfarm.
About the Walney Offshore Windfarm
Here at Cleveleys we all know the Offshore Windfarms, and how the turbines silhouette against the fantastic sunsets.
But did you know that part of their power supply comes to shore here at Cleveleys?
The windfarm that you see out at sea today has been developed in phases over a number of years.
The Walney Offshore Windfarm was the second field to be built, following the Barrow Offshore Windfarm. There are 102 turbines in the Walney Offshore Windfarm, approx 15km west of Barrow-in-Furness. The first one was installed on 12 July 2010.
The windfarm can just be seen on the distant horizon – to the left of what appear to be the larger Barrow turbines. (They look bigger because they’re closer to the camera).
The Walney Offshore Windfarm was built in two phases – Walney 1 and Walney 2 – by Dong Energy. They are a Danish company, now called Orsted.
- Each of the turbines is 150m from blade tip to sea level.
- That’s 30m taller than the Barrow ones and only 8m (24′) shorter than Blackpool Tower!
- There are 51 turbines in each phase.
- Each one is capable of generating 3.6MW of electricity and a total of 367.2MW.
- That’s enough to power 320,000 homes.
Connecting Walney 2 to Cleveleys
The power supply for the Walney 2 windfarm comes to shore at Rossall Beach, right here at Cleveleys.
Visit Cleveleys was lucky enough to be involved from the start to the end of the installation project. We documented the works online and provided information and updates for local people.
The turbines were being installed out at sea by a marine crew, while the high voltage cable was laid here on land.
Laying the Onshore Cable
A high voltage cable was laid in an open-cut trench between the sea wall and the new electricity sub-station at Hillhouse International industrial estate (the old ICI).
The open cut installation of the cable started in the late summer of 2010. The whole project to lay the electricity cable through the streets was documented on Visit Cleveleys. We provided weekly updates, photos and information about was happening, and what was coming next.
The Visit Cleveleys/Visit Fylde Coast websites have been rebuilt several times since then! The portal originally contained a lot of information and in transferring it to new websites some of the formatting went askew. So the detailed information was removed, with a general overview kept online instead. If anyone requires information for research purposes, we have a big archive of photos.
Power to the Grid
The cable runs in its underground trench in the highway from Thornton Gate near to the seafront at Cleveleys to Hillhouse Industrial Estate at Thornton. A new sub-station was built there (below) to transfer the power into the nearby National Grid at Stanah.
Laying the Cable in the Beach
In the summer of 2011, a cofferdam was constructed on Rossall Beach at the end of Thornton Gate, to enable beach works to take place.
Big steel sheets were pile-driven into the beach to create a tank. The sand was excavated out of it to create dry space for the workmen to do their job. They created a hole under the sea wall through which the high voltage cable could be pulled when it was brought to land.
All that’s left to show as a marker for all this work is a few short sheet-piles sticking out of the beach. They’re at what was the seaward end of the cofferdam. In fact they’re not always visible, quite often they’re covered by beach material!
Plugging the Windfarm In
Now the turbines were erected at sea, and the cable was laid in the highway, the two were joined together. And how that happened was a fascinating experience in itself.
In Spring 2011, the Stemat Spirit cable barge docked offshore at Cleveleys to lay the power connection or ‘export cable’ which joins Walney 2 to land.
A plough attached to the barge carved a 2m deep trench into the seabed. At the same time, the high voltage cable was unrolled off huge spools on the back of the ship, into the trench, and covered in sand. The marine cable is in one piece from the windfarm to land, and joins to the land cable at Thornton Gate.
It’s an armoured, high voltage 132kv power cable, complete with a 48 core fibre optic cable which provides communication to the windfarm.
Part of the World’s Largest Offshore Windfarm
Since the work carried out at Cleveleys, the Walney Offshore Windfarm has been extended.
The 87 turbines of the extension phase became operational in September 2018. More about the Walney Offshore Windfarm Extension here.
For a time, the windfarm which we can see from land on the Fylde Coast, was the largest in the world.
Explore on your Walk
While you’re out walking along Cleveleys seafront, watch out for the information board where the cable comes ashore at the end of Thornton Gate.
Thornton Gate at Rossall Beach is near the community planter. The information panel includes lots of interesting details about the windfarm. Read it and find out how the cable was brought to land, roughly what you can see over the sea, and much more.
It’s one of a series of information boards produced by Rossall Beach Residents and Community Group. They look after this stretch of beach and share their knowledge with other beach lovers.
While you’re here…
Have a look at the homepage of the Visit Cleveleys website for more of the latest updates.
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