Vestas Blade Technology Centre

Vestas Blade Technology Centre, Isle of Wight

Vestas Blade Technology Centre, Isle of Wight

The world leader in the offshore wind industry, Vestas was looking to create an R&D facility to prototype and test its new wind turbine design. With 80m long blades, the V164 turbine is a huge leap in wind technology. Each turbine is set to generate seven megawatts of electricity – enough to power 7,000 homes. The Blade Technology Centre is designed to provide an environment in which these massive turbines may be built and tested to destruction. Ramboll led this project, and provided multidisciplinary services that covered the whole spectrum of design and engineering requirements.

The complex includes three buildings — a prototyping hall, a testing hall (each the size of two football fields), and an office block. A central glazed atrium houses reception facilities and a canteen.

An integrated design approach from the very beginning meant we could deliver the client’s vision for a flexible and sustainable development to an efficient programme. Our civils, structures and geotechnical engineers and services consultants worked together to develop a building layout and orientation that minimises solar gain and serves the overall natural ventilation design, and at the same time allowed for an efficient cut and fill strategy on the sloping riverbank site.

The steel frame R&D halls are nine storeys in height and have 54m clear spans. The halls had to be carefully tuned to accommodate the heavy loading requirements associated with testing and manufacturing the turbines — for example, each hall houses three 35-tonne travelling cranes. Massive 1500mm welded plate girder columns carry the roof load down through to 25m deep CFA piles. The roofs are portalised truss systems, prefabricated for speedy installation. This portalised philosophy means Vestas may extend the halls in future by simply adding more bays.

The complex is designed for energy efficiency and has achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating. Sustainable design features include a rainwater harvesting system, a self-contained sewage plant, ground source heat pumps (providing all the heating and cooling requirements to the office block), natural ventilation chilled beams and night cooling.

ground engineering

As part of the Ramboll-led project to provide off-shore wind industry world leader Vestas with a new R&D facility on the Isle of Wight, we undertook enabling works to prepare the 6 hectare riverside site. A suitable platform was required for a turbine blade prototyping hall, a testing hall (each the size of two football fields) and an office block.

The brownfield site was derelict, except for a concrete batching plant and a cement bagging works at the River Medina's edge — all that remained of the much larger cement works that occupied it historically. In later years, the site was used for oil storage. Demolition works included the removal of extensive foundation remains, and soil remediation to deal with hydrocarbon contamination.

To provide a building platform, site levelling was required, involving major cut and fill works — 28,000 sq m in area. Site-won materials were recovered and made usable for fill using lime and cement to stabilise the soil, a process made cost-effective by the island location, which made materials removal or import expensive.

To treat the soft alluvial ground at depth, vibro-stone columns were proposed. Geotechnical instrumentation was installed and monitored over time to validate this approach, with the further aim of finding programme savings through basing the design on actual ground conditions.

The estuary of the River Medina is a designated site of special scientific interest (SSSI). Landscaped attenuation ponds and swales form part of the surface water drainage features for the Vestas site, designed to manage run-off to the river and mitigate flood impacts. A 100m long quay was constructed to enable the landing of large shipped components.


First Floor, Emerald Building
Oud Metha Road
PO Box 116921, Dubai, UAE
Tel:+971 4 334 3616
Fax:+971 4 334 3617


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