World’s largest offshore wind farm receives go-ahead in UK

The Juncker Plan has allowed the UK to invest in offshore wind power. [NHD-INFO/Flickr]

The world’s largest offshore wind farm has yesterday (16 August) received development consent from the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Secretary Greg Clark. EURACTIV’s media partner reports.

Located 89 kilometres off the Yorkshire coast, the 300 turbine Hornsea Project Two will have a capacity of up to 1.8GW and could meet the electricity needs of approximately 1.6 million UK homes per year.

The £6bn (€6.94bn) windfarm is expected to create up to 1,960 construction jobs and 580 operational and maintenance jobs in the Humber region upon completion.

Greg Clark said: “The UK’s offshore wind industry has grown at an extraordinary rate over the last few years, and is a fundamental part of our plans to build a clean, affordable, secure energy system.

“Britain is a global leader in offshore wind, and we’re determined to be one of the leading destinations for investment in renewable energy, which means jobs and economic growth right across the country.”

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New data from the National Grid reveals that 2015 was a record-breaking year for wind energy generation, with onshore and offshore wind farms setting new weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual records. EURACTIV’s partner reports.

‘Huge potential’

The green light for the windfarm – estimated to be fully operational in 2020 – comes after the project’s financer Dong Energy made a final investment decision back in February.

The Government used the announcement as an opportunity to reveal that it is making £730m (€843m) of financial support available for renewable electricity generation this Parliament, and expects 10GW of offshore wind to be installed by the end of this decade.

Welcoming the news, Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “This is fantastic news for local communities and the environment. This massive wind farm will provide enough clean electricity to power almost two million homes and create hundreds of new jobs.

“Developing the nation’s massive offshore wind resource could also boost demand for UK steel and help repower British manufacturing. Theresa May’s Government must do more to harness the UK’s huge green energy potential – and end our reliance on climate-wrecking fossil fuels.”

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Danish wind turbines set a new world record in 2015. Wind power is now counted for 42.1% of the total electricity consumption in Denmark, according to data published on Friday (15 January).

‘Global leader’

The praise was echoed by renewable energy supplier Good Energy, whose trading director Mark Meyrick commented on the potential for offshore wind to kick-start the UK’s low-carbon transformation.

“The UK is already a global leader in offshore wind and this new project demonstrates just how much renewable energy potential we have,” Meyrick said. “It’s clear that our European partners have faith in this country’s wind energy potential.

“We need to match the ambition of our offshore wind sector with new technologies like tidal lagoons, which could provide 8% of UK electricity demand.”

The Hornsea development news comes on the same day that research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) revealed that Britain could scrap the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant and gain the same amount of electricity from the offshore wind industry for roughly the same investment.

As Theresa May’s Government re-examines the case for nuclear reactors at the Somerset plant, BNEF data suggest that the UK could install about 830 offshore wind farms which would generate 25TWh of power a year for the same capital costs.

“If we had £18bn to spend today, we could build 5.7 gigawatts of offshore wind ­– just under double the capacity and generating the same level of power as Hinkley Point,” said BNEF analyst Keegan Kruger.

‘Mature solution’

The announcement adds weight to the argument that renewable energy sources, and in particular the offshore wind industry, could rival alternative options such as Hinkley and shale gas exploration as the UK’s main energy supplier.

On Monday, the Crown Estate’s drector Huub den Rooijen commented on the sector’s ability to deliver “on time and to budget”. He stated that “offshore wind now offers a mature part of the solution for the UK’s energy mix”.

The positive outcome for Hornsea could see the UK secure 10% of its electricity needs by 2020 from the offshore wind sector. In total, Britain now has more than 10GW of offshore wind capacity either operating, under construction or with FID’s taken.

EU leaders agreed on new climate and energy goals for 2030 after marathon talks held in October 2014.

They include cutting greenhouse gases by at least 40% versus 1990, and increasing energy efficiency and renewables by at least 27%.

For 2020, the EU already has three goals: to cut emissions, increase the use of green sources such as wind and solar and cut energy use, all by 20%.

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