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Storms, sea mines and sand dunes: site investigations are a real challenge

Even though there is not so much to see, the preparatory works for the Hollandse Kust Zuid 1 & 2 wind farm – the first subsidy-free Dutch wind farm – is now in full swing. In the coming years, Vattenfall will build a wind farm off the coast of The Hague and Noordwijk that can supply 1 to 1.5 million households with renewable energy. From now until the summer, many researchers will work day and night off shore to find out as much as possible about the location of the wind farm. Using high-tech equipment, they will scan under water for unexploded bombs (UXO) and shipwrecks, but also map the seabed. During this process they are faced with various challenges. 

The work started in February 2019, but soon storms Freya and Gareth caused disruption to the initial works taking place. The two research vessels, with a total of thirty crew members, were forced to take shelter in the Scheveningen harbour. “Of course it’s very frustrating to have such bad weather right from the start, but there’s not much you can do about it,” says Daniel Jenkins, project manager at Bibby HydroMap, the company that is carrying out the geophysical surveys. “The vessels are built for worse weather conditions, but the equipment is very sensitive. We know that if we collect data during bad weather, it will be of poor quality. That is simply not an option.”

Wind farm Hollandse Kust Zuid 1 & 2 will provide 1 to 1.5 million households with renewable energy.

According to Aidan Marchand, who oversees the technical implementation of the project from Vattenfall, it was already known in advance that the North Sea does not always offer the best (weather) conditions for site investigations. “That is why our original planning already includes a number of weeks in which we cannot collect data.” Due to the turbulent weather, the research vessels have to make the most of the calm periods in order to catch up. Jenkins: “The crew collects data 24 hours a day, thus also at night. In that way, we make optimal use of the favourable weather windows.”

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Vattenfall is the parent company of Nuon, and generates and supplies electricity, heating, cooling and gas as well as offering customers a variety of sustainable solutions. Vattenfall want to achieve fossil-free energy generation within one generation. This Swedish energy company is investing heavily in wind energy to achieve this aim. We are working towards a sustainable world, for now and in the future.