Journalism portfolio of Alistair Welch

Category: Offshore Wind

Low carbon writing

Three recent articles from three of Media Culture’s titles in the clean energy space.

Firstly, a feature (from Low Carbon Vehicle Engineering) on the launch of the Formula E Racing Championship (which recently got underway in spectacular fashion in Beijing) following a visit to Donnington to see the full-electric single-seater race cars in testing:


September 13 2014 will be a historic day in motor sport as 20 drivers representing 10 teams race around a street circuit in Beijing. The key innovation? The cars will be full electric relying on a battery rather than an internal combustion engine to power them toward the chequered flag.

Formula E is a new FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, the motor sport governing body) single-seater championship and the world’s first fully electric racing series. The inaugural season will comprise 10 rounds of racing on street circuits in cities the world over including Buenos Aires (January 10 2015), Berlin (30 May 2015), and the iconic Monte Carlo (May 9 2015). The championship will conclude with a race around the streets of London in June 2015.

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From Energy Engineering, an interview with CEO of Aquamarine Power Martin McAdam concerning the progress of his company’s Oyster wave energy technology:

Oyster in operation2-1

Aquamarine Power has been one of the most visible companies in the UK’s nascent wave energy sector. The company’s Oyster 800 device was installed at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney in 2011 and testing has continued since.

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Finally from Offshore Wind Engineering, a look at A2SEA’s new vessels for the offshore wind market:

May 2014 saw A2SEA’s new second generation installation vessel SEA CHALLENGER arrive in the Port of Esbjerg, Denmark having been delivered from her site of manufacture in China. The 132m vessel incorporates a 94m boom crane capable of lifting up to 900 tonnes and is industry leading across its specification. SEA CHALLENGER joins her sister vessel SEA INSTALLER to serve the offshore wind market in Northern Europe. Indeed, within days of her delivery SEA CHALLENGER was mobilised for her first project, Westermost Rough (a Round Two zone off England’s North East coast), where she will start the installation of 35 Siemens 6MW turbines – the first example in the world of such turbines being installed on a large scale.

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Fife renewables

Article that appeared in both Energy Engineering and Offshore Wind Engineering addressing the emergence of Fife as a renewables industry hub


With an increasing number of companies working across a variety of renewable energy sectors now calling Fife home, the region is swiftly establishing itself as the renewables hub of both Scotland and the UK as a whole; new developments attracting renewables start-ups exist alongside well-established heavy engineering companies.

In the ports of Methil and Rosyth, BiFab and Babcock respectively are both extending their facilities to meet the engineering requirements of Round Three offshore wind projects. Meanwhile, the Fife-council supported Energy Park, also in Methil, hosts the Hydrogen Office, a £4.7 million demonstration and research facility powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology, and the recently opened Fife Renewables Innovation Centre (FRIC), an incubator facility for start-up businesses and small companies looking to enter the renewable energy sector.

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Sheringham Shoal: Action stations

Cover feature from Offshore Wind Autumn 2012

Alistair Welch tests out his sea legs as he goes offshore to take a closer look at the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm on the eve of the project entering full operation

Sitting in what was once the science laboratory of the Old School House in Wells, Norfolk, a building that now serves as the temporary operational headquarters of Scira, it is all too easy to be blasé about the engineering achievement of the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm. The diagrams up on the whiteboards that show the diamond layout of the 88 turbines and two substations along with cable connections and operational information give an impression of serene order.

20km offshore in The Wash and it is a different picture; even on a relatively calm day the boat that has brought a group of journalists out to the site bobs queasily, bringing home the extraordinary challenge of working in the offshore environment. Furthermore, it is only when you get within touching distance of a turbine that you get a true idea of the scale of these machines and that of the project as a whole.

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Offshore accounts

Editorial from Energy Engineering magazine responding to two industry reports on cost reduction in offshore wind.

Substation at the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm. Image: Alistair Welch

“The figure of £100/MWh is widely touted as the holy grail of the offshore wind industry: reach this levelised cost by 2020 and the goal of cost competitiveness beckons. But how can the sector hope to reach this point? Where can cost reduction be achieved? Who is responsible for driving it? And is such a target feasible within the timescale?

Sheringham Shoal turbines in operation. Image: Alistair Welch

Although estimates vary, the current cost of energy from offshore wind is thought to be around £150/MWh. As it stands, the UK has 1.86GW installed offshore wind capacity. However, the government wants 18GW operational by 2020. This huge increase in capacity, to be fulfilled predominantly by the large Round 3 zones currently in very early stages of development, will only be feasible if cost reduction is taken seriously across the industry.”

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Links: Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force (DECC), Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Pathways Study (The Crown Estate)

Offshore Wind Engineering

Features from the Spring issue of Offshore Wind Engineering.

Writing includes: interview with The Crown Estate’s new head of offshore wind energy; focus on opportunities in the Scottish supply chain; and a report on crew transfer vessels.

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Offshore Wind Engineering – Winter 2011

Four articles from the Winter 2011 issue of Offshore Wind Engineering:

Project planning

Interview with Anne Savage, the Crown Estate’s manager of marine planning and consents

Writing the risk

Energy insurance specialists GCube assess risk in offshore development

Foundations for the future

New foundation technologies are being developed at Belfast heavy industries firm Harland and Wolff

Shipping forecast

Update on a business providing workboats for offshore projects