A MASSIVE crane barge is on its way to the Essex coast to help in the construction of an offshore wind farm

A MASSIVE crane barge is on its way to the Essex coast to help in the construction of an offshore wind farm.

The 13,600 tonne Svanen is due to arrive off the shores of Clacton late next week when it will start work on foundations of the Gunfleet Sands Offshore Wind Farm – which is set to be fully operational by 2010.

It is the next phase in Danish power firm Dong Energy’s plans to erect a wind farm 7km out to sea that could power 120,000 homes, about 20% of Essex.

Peter Sills, Dong’s head of communications for the project, said each monopile foundation was up to 50m tall and weighed 400 tonnes.

“They will be driven up to 40m into the seabed by hydraulic hammer and it takes between two and four hours per monopile,” he said. “The transition pieces are then mounted on top of the monopile by crane and painted yellow to assist with navigation. Each transition piece weighs 230 tonnes and is 23m tall. The total time to install a monopile and transition piece is under two days.”

The large cranes and jack-up barges will be positioned using tugs, which utilise state-of-the-art positioning systems for pinpoint accuracy.

These tugs will be working out of local ports in the Thames Estuary and a number of smaller vessels will be working out of Brightlingsea on the River Colne – carrying out surveys, continuing environmental monitoring studies, and ferrying personnel to and from the construction site.

Mr Sills added: “The wind turbines will be erected during the spring and summer of next year and will be commissioned in phases as the turbines become available for energy production.”

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