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Daily Telegraph: Britain’s massive offshore wind power potential

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Econcern is constructing the Q7 wind farm off the Dutch coast

By Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 2:01pm BST 04/10/2007

It can’t be seen, tasted or touched but it comes in limitless amounts and is totally free.

And because it has the capacity to help solve Britain’s energy crisis it has sparked a new North Sea bonanza.

With the glut of oil and gas now almost gone the rigs are gradually being superseded by slimmer more elegant coastal sentinels – offshore wind turbines.

Because they are sited miles out to sea wind farms don’t annoy the neighbours, can be built on a much grander scale and so produce far more power than their often unloved, land-locked cousins.

Where once we were blessed with huge reserves of oil and gas the British Isles is waking up to the fact that because it is the windiest place in Europe it is ideally placed to become the best market for offshore wind energy in the world.

Wind power is attractive because it can be produced cleanly and relatively cheaply from a limitless and sustainable resource which is why wind farms are springing up all around our coastline.

Electricity from offshore wind farms is expected to play a major role in helping meet the Government’s difficult target of 20 per cent of our needs from sustainable sources by 2020.

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), believes that our offshore wind resources amounts to three times the UK’s annual electricity consumption but it is generally accepted that our future energy needs is likely to come from a mixture of sustainable sources alongside gas, clean coal and nuclear.

Renewable energy is central to the Government’s objectives to secure diverse energy supply and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

The Crown Estate, which is responsible for managing more than half of the foreshore and all the sea bed within the 12-mile limit, has held two rounds of development which has led to the granting of more than 30 licences for wind farm developments.

In England the three main strategic sites are: the Greater Wash, the Thames Estuary and the North West (Liverpool Bay).

There are currently five offshore wind farms in operation – Scroby Sands, Kentish Flats, North Hoyle, Barrow and Blyth. Another 10 have won approval and eight are at the planning stage

The largest ever deal for offshore wind turbines was announced in September when Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds signed a preliminary agreement to buy 140 3.6 megawatts wind turbines from Siemens for its wind farm off the British coast.

They will be installed on a 500-megawatt wind farm around the Inner Gabbard and Galloper sandbanks 16 miles off the Suffolk coast in the outer Thames estuary.

Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Limited, a joint venture company formed by Airtricity and Fluor, claim the wind farm will provide electricity for more than 415,000 homes and eiliminate nearly 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by displacing fossil fuel-fired generation.

Another major wind farm development, thought to be the world’s biggest, is the London Array wind farm to be located 12 miles from the Kent and Essex coasts between Margate and Claction in the outer Thames Estuary.

The £1.5bn scheme, operated by three partners – Shell WindEnergy, E.ON and DONG Energy – could generate 1,000 megawatts of power from 341 turbines, enough to meet about 1 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs when it becomes operational in 2010.

Built in phases it will generate enough power to supply 750,000 homes – around a quarter of Greater London or all of the homes in Kent and East Sussex.

A second smaller wind farm, called the Thanet scheme, will cover 13.5 sq miles off the north Kent coast.

The £450m Thanet project will have 100 turbines Developed by Warwick Energy, it could be supplying electricity to about 240,000 homes by 2008.

The Kentish Flats offshore wind farm, owned by Elsam, began commercial operation in December 2005. Located in the Thames Estuary, it comprises 30 Vestas wind turbines with a 3MW capacity. It is the largest wind farm installed so far and uses the largest turbines.

It is expected to produce 285MW of electricity every year, enough to power 100,000 homes.

The power company RWE npower is one of the biggest players in offshore wind farms.

It already operates North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm built in 2003, 4-5 miles off the North Wales coast between the holiday resorts of Prestatyn and Rhyl. The 30 2MW turbines produce enough electricity to supply 40,000 homes.

Rhyl Flats will be npower renewables’s second offshore wind farm and should be on stream by July 2009. It will comprise 25 wind turbines, each with an installed capacity of 3.6MW enough to supply 61,000 homes.

It is also planning the Gywnt y Mor scheme further out than Hoyle which will see about 200 turbines producing 750MW of energy – enough to power around 500,000 homes and at the same time eliminating about 2m tonnes annually of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel power stations.

Other larger English projects underway include:
Walney Island

A £280m hybrid wind farm and gas generating station producing up to 200MW of electricity.

The Ormonde Project will be six miles from Walney Island on the Cumbrian coast and will contain 30 turbines – enough to supply around 70,000 homes.

When the wind fails to blow the station has the ability to switch to gas pumped from the Morecambe Bay field.

Triton Knoll

The company npower renewables wants to build this giant 1,200MW offshore wind farm in the Greater Wash, off the east coast of England. When completed, it would claim the London Array project’s title of the world’s biggest offshore wind farm.

Sherringham Shoal

About nine miles off the Norfolk coast being built in a joint venture between Evelop and Hydrowill and due to come on stream in 2008. It will consist of 45 – 108 turbines. The turbines rated power will be between approximately 3.0 and 7.0 MW, with an estimated maximum power capacity of 315 MW.

Docking Shoal

A proposed 500MW wind farm with 72 – 166 turbines to be built by Centrica on a shallow sand bank, approximately 10 miles off the north Norfolk coast in the Greater Wash. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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