Major components have begun arriving at new port facilities on the River Mersey in Birkenhead for the construction of Gwynt y Môr Offshore Wind Farm in Liverpool Bay.
The €2billion (EURO) project, one of Europe's largest offshore wind farms, 18km off the Wirral coast, is enabling significant new investment into Merseyside, the North West and UK supply chain.
Gwynt y Môr Offshore Wind Farm Limited is developing a temporary base off Campbeltown Road in Birkenhead, next to the River Mersey to load and fit out the foundations for the offshore wind turbines.
It follows a £5million contract awarded to Cammell Laird Shipyard last year for the lease of port and quayside facilities and a £2.6million contract to Warrington based I&H Brown for enabling works.
In total more than £16.5 million worth of contracts have been awarded to companies across Merseyside.
RWE npower renewables' Gwynt y Môr Project Director, Toby Edmonds said: "Work is underway on site to prepare for the installation of 160 wind turbine foundations in Liverpool Bay.
"This will take place over the next two years with components being brought to our new base on the River Mersey both by road and coastal delivery vessels.
"Our temporary facilities are bringing back into good use a former brown field site unoccupied since the mid 1990s.
"We are delighted to be working with a range of Merseyside and North West based companies in the construction of Gwynt y Môr."
Among the first consignment of equipment to arrive at the base is what's believed to be the world's most powerful reverse circulation pile top drill.
Components for the £multi-million drill, designed by Falmouth based LDD and fabricated in Sheffield, are being assembled on site ready for use offshore during foundation installation.
In addition, huge cranes are being moved onto place on the quayside in preparation for the delivery of foundation components.
Crane company, Sarons, won a €15m EURO contract to provide four 600 tonnes cranes, a 100 tonne telescopic crane and two self propelled modular trailers (SPMTs).
Offshore construction activity for Gwynt y Môr has began in Liverpool Bay with preparations to the seabed, known as scour protection.
The development comprises 160 turbines, two offshore substations, 13km of subsea export cable, 11km of underground cable and a new onshore substation in North Wales.
The wind farm is being constructed in water depths of 12-28 metres, and was granted approval by DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) in December 2008.
Construction of the €2billion project began in November 2009 with work to prepare land at St Asaph, North Wales for the construction of a new 132/400kV substation.
Onshore cable installation work is now well underway, while construction of the substation is being carried out by Siemens and National Grid and is also well advanced.
Turbine foundation installation is expected to start in the summer, and last for around two years. First generation is likely to happen during 2013 and it is anticipated that the wind farm will become fully operational in 2014.
RWE npower renewables has set up a project information line which people can call if they have a query about the construction of Gwynt y Môr. The number is 0845 026 0587.
At 576MW, Gwynt y Môr is one of the largest offshore wind farms currently in construction in Europe. It is a shared investment between partners RWE Innogy, Stadtwerke München GmbH and Siemens(1). Once fully operational, energy generation from Gwynt y Môr is expected to be equivalent to the average annual needs of around 400,000 homes(2).
For more information about Gwynt y Môr Offshore Wind Farm visit: www.rwe.com/gwyntymor