Planning approval has been granted for the £300M offshore wind foundation factory at Teesside Freeport.

South Korean steel manufacturer SeAH Wind can now push ahead with plans to construct the 40m-tall and 800m-long factory, which will be the largest in the world. It will sit on a 36.4ha site and have an internal volume of 105,000m3 – the same size as HS2’s enormous precast factory for the construction of the Colne Valley Viaduct. It will be an unheated space, with services concentrating on air quality and adaptable lighting to provide optimum working conditions while ensuring low energy consumption.

The factory will produce monopiles that will be up to 120m long and 15.5m in diameter, weighing 3,000t. This will be SeAH Wind’s first factory that is able to manufacture monopiles of this scale outside of South Korea.

Once operational, it is expected to produce between 100 and 150 monopiles annually. These will be transported directly from the factory to the adjacent South Bank Quay, where construction is underway and being overseen by Atkins and Faithful+Gould. From there, the monopiles will be taken out into the North Sea for installation at one of the windfarms using specialised pile driving equipment.

K2 Consultancy has been appointed as the project manager, construction manager and cost consultant. It has engaged a multi-disciplinary team that includes Ashton Smith Associates as the architects, Clarkebond as the civil, structural and geo-environmental engineers, and Waterman Group as the building services engineers.

Aside from the main monopile manufacturing building, the scheme will also deliver an administration office, a maintenance station, a paint facility and site-specific power stations. The design by Ashton Smith Associates has been developed to achieve a configuration that satisfies SeAH Wind’s operational requirements, ensuring that space is interconnected efficiently and safely, with all disciplines operating under one roof.

Site works will commence in July with an anticipated delivery date of 2024.

K2 director of project management Nick Coke said: “This is a tremendously exciting project for us building on our strong experience in the industrial manufacturing sector.  It gives us the opportunity to deliver a market-leading, world-class and pioneering facility that will kick-start much needed regeneration on Teesside.  This brings some fresh challenges as the project requires us to deliver for a Korean client new to the UK. In order to fast-track the project and to allow SeAH to speed their product to market, we are leveraging our expertise in construction management, allowing work to start on site at the earliest opportunity.”

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said: “This is a fantastic step forward for SeAH Wind’s game-changing scheme. The first job has been advertised, the plans have been approved and now spades can get in the ground in just a matter of weeks. 2022 is our year of construction there’s nothing holding back plans for this mammoth facility, helping drive forward the cleaner, safer and healthier industries of the future.”

“Alongside these specialists, SeAH Wind has engaged with almost 200 local supply chain companies, detailing how they can get on board use our expertise and know-how to make its facility a reality. This will make sure it benefits our region in the short-term, while creating the well-paid, good-quality jobs of the future.”

Clarkebond director Theodore Tai said: “Being at the forefront of the design for the largest monopiles manufacturing facility, we are proud to engage in such an important energy scheme and fulfil the current government energy policy of exploring an alternative energy system for the UK market. Our in-house expertise has been collaboratively engaged with the Client and the professional team to achieve the first key milestone with the planning submission now submitted.”

Source: New Civil Engineer

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