Ramping up the UK’s renewable energy future

Posted 07/11/2018 by E.ON

In the English Channel, 13km off the Sussex Coast, spanning an area larger than Guernsey, 116 turbines generate enough power for around 350,000 UK homes. That’s equivalent to around half the homes in Sussex. 

Introducing Rampion – the latest addition to the UK’s renewable energy fleet. 

Rampion, which officially opened on 30th November 2018 is now making a significant contribution to the UK’s renewable electricity output – and it will do so for the next 25 years, helping the country to meet environmental targets and climate change reduction commitments.

The wind farm has enough capacity to generate roughly the same as a modern gas-fired power station and a third more power than the original Bankside Power Station in London, now the Tate Modern Gallery. Rampion will reduce CO2 emissions by almost 600,000 tonnes a year, and 15 million tonnes over its working lifetime.

The start of the journey

The Rampion site was named after the county flower of Sussex which grows on the South Downs, as suggested by students from Davison High School for Girls as part of a public competition in 2010.

After eight years including a three-year construction schedule involving a workforce of around 750 people at peak times, the first wind farm off the UK’s south coast was officially opened in November 2018. 

But constructing the wind turbines, which stand at 140m – just taller than both Brighton’s i360 tower and the London Eye – took time and extensive planning. 

From 2010 – 2012, two years of environmental and engineering surveys were carried out, and during 2012 plans were shared with more than 4,500 local people through a series of public exhibitions held across the county. All of this helped shape the final wind farm design standing today, which was agreed in November 2014, after the project was granted planning consent by the Secretary of State in July 2014.

Uncovering history

During the site’s development some exciting historical discoveries were uncovered – both on and offshore. 

Anglo Saxon remains were uncovered by on-site archaeologists along the onshore cable route in 2015. Specialist tests and radiocarbon dating indicated the 1,000-year-old skeleton underwent an execution killing before the Norman Conquest from around 1010-1025 AD. 

And at sea, two World War II bombs were discovered off Lancing beach in 2016 with controlled detonations required to safely dispose of the devices.

Construction at sea

Throughout 2016, 116 turbine foundations were installed using a 1,000-tonne crane to lift each foundation upright before lowering and piling it into the seabed with a hydraulic hammer. Not an easy task in itself, and made more challenging by the need to ensure any disruption to marine life, including fish breeding, was minimised. 

The turbines were installed one by one in just six months during 2017. As interest began to grow, telescopes were installed along the coast providing residents and tourists with a free grandstand view of the growing wind farm, and giving people the opportunity to watch as 80 metre towers (each weighing around 200 tonnes) were lifted onto each foundation. ‘Nacelles’, which house each turbines generator and gearbox, were fitted onto the towers, before the blades – each measuring 55 metres long – were hoisted and connected into place. 

Powering up

An astounding 140km of cables – enough to go from Brighton to London and back again – are buried under the seabed, connecting the array of turbines and carrying power to shore. 
In November 2017 the first turbine was brought online, and the site generated electricity for the first time. Over the subsequent months, all turbines were turned on and by spring 2018 all 116 turbines could generate clean green power, adding to the UK’s growing renewable fleet.

The Operations and Maintenance Base was officially opened in May 2018, and is now home to a 65-strong team of technicians, engineers, apprentices and marine workers. 

Supporting the community 

In support of the Sussex community £100,00 was donated to the four RNLI stations surrounding the wind farm and a £3.1 million fund has been made available for community groups, and projects over the next decade.

See for yourself

A visitor centre will open on the Brighton seafront by summer 2019, which will house interactive displays for visitors to learn more about climate change, offshore wind energy and the Rampion story. So, if you’re ever in the area, why not pop in to find out more?

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The site is owned by E.ON, Enbridge and the UK Green Investment Rampion Ltd (a consortium comprising of the Green Investment Group, Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 5 and the Universities Superannuation Scheme).


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