Three steps to build a wind farm

Take a tour of Harland and Wolff's docks in Belfast with science correspondent David Shukman as the turbines prepare for their journey out to sea. To experience the sheer scale of the turbines, explore the zoomable image below.

You need JavaScript to use this deep image zoom application.



Journey's start

A close-up look at colossal wind turbines in a dockyard in Cumbria before they are shipped out to sea.

Science correspondent David Shukman gets up close to some of the world's largest wind turbines

Crane driver, 100m up

Crane driver Robert Chiles talks about being responsible for moving enormous wind turbines around a dockyard.

Science correspondent David Shukman talks to crane driver Robert Chiles, the man in the hot seat, as the colossal turbines are moved around the docks

The workers

The installation of the completed Ormonde wind farm off the Cumbrian coast took over 1.6 million hours of work

Rotor hub

  • The hub sits at the centre of the 126m-diameter rotors, and holds the delicate structure together

  • The view of the inside

Flat-pack turbines

Science correspondent David Shukman takes a look at how a wind turbine is prepared for its journey out to sea.

All the parts of the giant turbines are present and correct as David Shukman describes the final preparations before heading out to sea

The mighty sea jack

  • The sea jack can transport two whole turbines out to sea in a single journey

  • At over 90m long and 33m across the sea jack can carry between 1,500-2,500 tonnes of cargo

  • The sea jack's journey to the Cumbrian coast is nearly 200km

The turbines pictured above are now part of the Ormonde wind farm, built by Swedish-based energy firm Vattenfall. The site, located off the Cumbrian coast, has 30 of the five-megawatt turbines in total and should be able to power around 100,000 homes.

Professor Dieter Helm, from the University of Oxford, on why he thinks offshore wind farms are too expensive

Is wind power the answer?

By 2020 the government hopes that 15% of the UK's energy will come from renewable sources with wind energy making a key contribution.

But although the UK has access to some of the world's best resources for producing wind energy, offshore wind farms remain an expensive way of producing electricity.

Professor Dieter Helm, an economist from the University of Oxford, told the BBC he doubted a large expansion in offshore wind power was affordable. He said: "Offshore wind is one of the very few things that makes nuclear power look cheap."

Timelapse footage reveals the tricky operation of getting turbines ready for their journey out to sea

Graphic *Can carry a higher cost as the farms are sited further out to sea and are in deeper water

The graphic above refers to energy projects started in 2009. As time passes costs are expected to drop, the government hopes that offshore wind can reach £100/MWh by 2020.

More Science & Environment stories