Insight: Andy Paine of ScottishPower Renewables & Vattenfall on the East Anglia Offshore Wind project

ANDY PAINE is the Programme Director for the East Anglia Offshore Wind project. East Anglia Offshore Wind Limited (EAOW) is a joint venture owned 50:50 by ScottishPower Renewables & Vattenfall. In March 2012, Andy joined Vattenfall and brought with him more than 15 years of development experience from the energy sector working in a variety of positions. As Vattenfall’s Programme Director on EAOW, Andy works closely with his ScottishPower Renewables counterpart, Jason Martin, to head up the development of one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world. Here he describes his working week from July 2 to 6.

WHEN someone asks, ‘what is your normal working week like?’ it’s a very difficult question to answer when working in this industry.

Since I started working on EAOW four months ago, no two weeks have ever been the same. In one sense this ensures that you are never lost for things to do, but in another it brings with it real challenges.

Given the scale of the engineering requirements associated with developing a 6000km2 zone which could power almost 5 million homes, we have to make significant project decisions well in advance of receiving consent for our first project. It’s a demanding process, but with what we are trying to achieve in mind, a truly exciting one.

On Monday, July 2, my day started with a meeting with my counterpart from ScottishPower Renewables, Jason Martin, to discuss the project’s priorities for the week. This included what’s going well on the project, what’s not, and areas were we could be doing better. It tends to be a frank discussion that allows us to consider what each department within the project is telling us and translate this into business decisions on a day-to-day basis. This was followed up with a meeting with one of my Assistant Project Managers to discuss the Risk Register for the project.

Like any major infrastructure project, we proactively measure the risks associated with all aspects of the project from the preparedness of the supply chain to local concerns that may arise. All of these combine to help formulate an accurate understanding of what could be the real pinch points for the project and how these change over time. The absolute priority is to ensure that we have the best possible intelligence to assist in all our decisions when planning a wind farm of this size.

The other main highlight from Monday was a conference call in advance of our phase two-part two public consultation on East Anglia ONE, the first wind farm in our portfolio. The consultation period is to provide local communities along the cable route with further details on the proposed route, building on the public consultations held in February this year. This is all part of the process the project has to follow in advance of submitting our planning application for East Anglia ONE later this year.

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A great deal of planning goes into making sure these types of events run smoothly and members of the public, local politicians and other interested parties have all the information they need to feel informed about our project. During the call we covered the methods by which we intend to construct our onshore-undergrounded cable route and also the cable route itself. Both ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall are environmentally conscious developers and so we always do our best to find the most appropriate solutions for habitats, communities and landscapes that our project passes through.

Tuesday, July 3, after an early rise, I made the 130 mile trip from my home in Warwickshire to Woodbridge Library in Suffolk to kick off the drop-in sessions being held as part of our public consultation. My team and I spent the morning briefing a number of local Councillors and members of the public on the project’s plans for East Anglia ONE. It was a really good day and we had some extremely positive feedback. I felt confident those individuals who raised concerns left better informed with the answers that we provided. A really encouraging development was that a large number of people who I met at the drop in sessions were interested in possible skills and employment opportunities as a result of EAOW’s investment. From a project perspective having an adequate skills base for EAOW and our supply chain is central to our success, so it was great to have this feedback.

Once proceedings finished at Woodbridge, the team stopped off at EAOW’s office at Orbis Energy in Lowestoft to debrief on the drop-in sessions. Following this, I had to hot foot it back to our London Office to have a number of key meetings with my supply team on developments relating to the contract discussions we are having with potential contractors. One thing that is important to both our parent companies is promoting UK content where possible, and so we are looking at how we can help support this when cost efficient.

On Wednesday July 4, I had a really good catch up with the Development Team for East Anglia ONE who is taking a whole tranche of survey work forward at the moment. Of particular note is a geophysical study currently being undertaken by a survey vessel, which will measure the sand wave movement on the sea bed. This is a hugely important process as the sea bed profile can fluctuate by several metres at the water depths we are operating in, over the course of a 12 month period. We conducted a similar study in 2010 & 2011 and will be looking for any further variances. The key is that we need to get the most accurate data available before we design and build the foundations for our wind farm, as if there are significant variances then we will need to start thinking about all the knock on effects to our supply chain - from changes to the design to the amount of steel we will need fabricated to meet our build requirements.

Jumping forward to Friday, July 6, I spent the morning preparing for the forthcoming Renewable UK Offshore Strategy Group meeting. Renewable UK is the industry association for wind and wave energy in the UK. They act as an effective forum in helping to shape and influence policy around offshore wind. With the scale of EAOW in mind, it’s important that the interests of the project are articulated at this level.

My week was wrapped up with a meeting with my Vattenfall boss, who is responsible for the company’s entire Offshore Wind portfolio. As EAOW is the largest project currently being progressed within the business’ portfolio, we very much try to apply what we have learned through developing our current range of offshore wind farms. In this meeting we tend to discuss the next EAOW Shareholder meeting, which involves senior representatives from ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall. Both Jason and I, and our management team, are accountable to the Shareholders’ of EAOW, so being prepared for this meeting is key.

I hope this has provided you some insight into my working week, and if you have any questions about our project then please feel free to get in touch:

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