Photo Story: Five steps to an Offshore Wind Farm

Rainer Stenzenberger
Author
Rainer Stenzenberger
Manager Stakeholder Communications E.ON

On our Instagram channel, the pictures of offshore wind parks are usually the most popular. In addition, we are often asked by people how to get a job as a service technician or how to even take a close look at such a park.

Unfortunately, this is not usually possible, since without special safety training, you are not allowed to visit an offshore park - and even then, only on ships licensed for this purpose.

For the many fans of offshore wind technology, we have created a step-by-step photo story as a short, virtual excursion. This trip is focused on each of the beautiful and spectacular steps involved in the construction of a wind farm at sea. Conception, planning, approval procedures, port structures and much more are left out of the equation, but we will take you on board with us for the ride. We sailed out to two of our parks: Rampion, off the English coast and Arkona, far off the coast of Rügen.

Full ahead, Skipper!

1st step

Wind power plants must be built up from scratch in the sea. Not an easy task in an environment involving salt water, storms and huge waves – this demands good materials to avoid corrosion, combined with compressive strength. Special ships sink the foundations into the seabed, for which there are various techniques such as ‘jackets’, ‘tripods’ or ‘monopiles’, which was used at Arkona. The transition pieces (visible in yellow on the images) are then placed on top of the foundations – these are the connecting pieces to the wind turbines’ tower.

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2nd step

Since the wind farm is built to generate electricity from an early stage - and not only when the very last turbine has been completed - a transformer platform, the so-called substation, must be installed. In the picture here, we see the substation of Arkona, which was built in France and towed into the Baltic Sea.

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3rd step

The electricity generated by the wind turbines is routed to the substation via underwater cables. Special ships, like these shown in the picture, sometimes lay hundreds of kilometers of cable. From the central collection point of the substation, the high-voltage current is fed ashore with a central cable.

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4th step

When the towers, turbines and rotors are assembled, fascinating special ships are used, such as the bizarre jack-up vessels. These not only transport the components to the sites, but also anchor themselves on the pillar for the assembly and servicing of the systems. The heavy-duty crane of the jack-up vessel is now being used. From this time on, the wind farm is very busy. In our newest wind farm, Arkona, 50 different ships have been in operation so far, from the jack-up vessels and the cable layers to the crew transport vessels and the floating hotels for the service technicians.

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5th step

Finally, the last turbine is installed and the park can generate green electricity with full installed capacity. Now it is getting a bit quieter than during the construction phase - but there is still regular traffic. Service and maintenance play a major role, especially in the case of greater distances from the coast, such as in Arkona. Crew transfer vessels with service technicians regularly motor out towards Arkona and ensure, for example, that the climate-friendly electricity can supply up to 400,000 households.

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