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Students from South East Technological University (SETU’s) Electrical and Sustainable Energy Engineering programmes recently visited the fabrication and installation sites of what is soon to be the world’s largest offshore windfarm as part of educational trip to Newcastle, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough. The trip sought to trace the complicated fabrication and installation process of off shore windfarms.

The group travelled by bus to Smulders Fabrication Yard for the first full day of their trip. It’s here that the yellow transition pieces for the world’s largest wind turbines are fabricated and shipped to Dogger Bank which lies 120km off the British coastline. Employees at the factory provided a guided tour of the site which sits on a site of approximately 35 hectares. These transition pieces connect the subsea monopile, that is anchored in the seabed, to the wind turbine tower. This facility also fabricates and fits-out the decks for the offshore sub stations. 

The group then moved on to nearby Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD). Here, employees Peter and Nicola explained and showed students around the plant, which manufactures subsea remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for laying the cables from the wind turbines on Dogger Bank to the off-shore substation and back to land.

Finally with a lunch stop en-route it was on to JDR cables in Hartlepool, where workers Mandy, Mick, Dave & Brian showed the students around the plant. Students appreciated taking in the scale of these massive cables being manufactured first hand before they were loaded for shipping out to Dogger Bank. 

Dogger Bank pre-assembly

Dogger Bank pre-assembly

Day three of the trip kicked off at the Dogger Bank pre-assembly site near Hartlepool. Stephen from GE Vernova gave an introductory presentation on the site and completed the health and safety induction. Paul from Eastgate Engineering then showed the group around the site where the incredible turbine towers for Dogger Bank, which rise to an amazing 105m, are assembled. These are then loaded onto a ship in the vertical position, five at a time, and transported to the Dogger Bank, where they will be positioned above the transition pieces. The group were also shown the enormous wind turbine blades (over 100m long) and the nacelles. 

It was on then to Teesside Skills Centre for a presentation on how the former steel works site is being turned into a green industry hub. Our final visit of the day was to Teesside University's brand new Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre (NZIIC). Pat, Ellis, Mickey and Dave showed the group around their centre and demonstrated some of their incredible research projects. The group then returned to Newcastle where they spent the night before returning to Ireland on Wednesday morning.

SETU would like to thank David Brennan and Eastgate Engineering for their support and help in organising the trip and to all the sponsors who helped to make the trip possible, namely Weltec Engineering, Prochem Engineering, Engineers Ireland and Calmast. Thank you also to all the sites who facilitated the many visits that took place over the three days.