VITAL test drilling investigations to pave the way for the construction of the controversial offshore wind farm being opposed by Donald Trump got underway today in Aberdeen Bay.
A specialist survey vessel has been deployed to the proposed site of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) to drill a series of boreholes for the “innovative foundation designs” planned for the 11 giant turbines to be erected at the site, close to Trump’s Menie golf resort on the Aberdeenshire coast.
Two months ago the American tycoon pulled the plug on any future investment in his £750 million resort after the Scottish Government gave the go-ahead to the “monstrous” offshore wind farm he claims will blight the future development of the Menie estate.
Trump has hired Gordon Steele QC, one of Scotland’s top legal planning experts, to lead a court challenge against the Scottish Government’s decision to grant approval for the EOWDC.
The furious billionaire has owed to spend “whatever it takes” to block the construction of the turbines within sight of the stretch of coast where he claims to have created the “greatest golf course in the world.”
And the Trump Organisation is expected to lodge a writ against the Government’s approval of the wind farm scheme at the Court of Session in Edinburgh next week.
The EOWDC - a £230million experimental offshore wind farm development - will stretch from Aberdeen to an area off Blackdog, an estimated mile and a half from the Menie links. The scheme is aimed at providing enough power for more than 49,000 homes - almost half the houses in Aberdeen.
It is being spearheaded by Swedish company Vattenfall - Europe’s sixth-largest generator of electricity - together with the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG), and engineering company Technip Offshore Wind. The cutting-edge project is a demonstration facility for next generation wind turbines, which could herald massive investment in Scotland’s renewables infrastructure and help drive Scotland’s offshore wind energy ambitions.
A spokeswoman for the EOWDC said the major programme of offshore works which got underway today could lead to pioneering turbine foundation designs being developed at the test facility.
She explained: “The programme involves a series of geotechnical boreholes being performed between 2.5km and 4km off Aberdeen’s coast including drilling work to validate the findings of desk top research. The work is being carried out by Fugro Geoconsulting Limited with the geotechnical drilling vessel MV Markab.
“Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Ltd, the company driving forward the EOWDC, commissioned the work which is being supported by The Carbon Trust’s flagship research and development scheme, the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA).”
Iain Todd, the “renewables champion” of AREG, said: “This is a very exciting development for the project. As a result of discussions with the Carbon Trust, we are investigating the potential to demonstrate innovative foundation designs emerging from the OWA initiative including gravity-based foundations, twisted jackets and suction buckets. We will be drilling bore holes in four of the eleven turbine locations, assessing the suitability for a range of different foundation types.
“The geotechnical surveys, which are being conducted as part of the overall development process, will help us gain a further understanding of what is under the seabed and enable us to progress with foundation type selection and design. “
Mr Todd continued: “The opportunity to incorporate next generation foundations into the EOWDC would further enhance the scheme’s position as an industry-leading centre for accelerating the development of offshore wind and associated technology and innovations.”
The OWA is a collaborative initiative which brings together nine offshore wind developers in a joint industry project aimed at working towards reducing the cost of offshore wind by at least ten per cent by 2015.
Phil de Villiers, head of offshore wind at the Carbon Trust, said: “EOWDC is a tremendous opportunity for the industry to demonstrate novel foundations tailored for deeper waters.
“The geotechnical investigations will allow innovative designs to be selected that push right up to the limits of what is technically feasible at the site. The new designs have tremendous potential to drive down the cost of offshore wind, and demonstration at EOWDC will show they are ready for commercial use.”
As part of the geotechnical surveys, which are expected to run for about 10 days, the drilling vessel will be drilling boreholes at the four possible foundation sites in water depths ranging from around 72ft to 100ft.