Green light for offshore windfarms

Two offshore wind farms totalling 1.3GW are to be built in the Thames Estuary after consent for the projects was granted on Monday.

One of the schemes, the 1GW London Array, is set to become the world’s biggest offshore windfarm once it goes up 20km off the Kent and Essex coast, occupying an area of 232 square km. The smaller 300MW Thanet wind farm will take up 11.3 square km off the East Kent coast.

Industry secretary Alistair Darling said marine technologies must play a significant role in the development of Britain’s clean energy resources: “Achieving rapid growth in offshore renewables is essential if we are to reduce carbon emissions and improve the security of our energy supplies,” he said.

London Array and Thanet are the first projects to be granted consent under ’round two’ of UK offshore wind development, expected to produce 5-7GW GW-worth of wind power in total.

Offshore wind development in the UK has proceeded in two phases, the first of which resulted in planning permission granted for 17 sites in 2001, with a capacity of around 60-180MW at each site, and came to be known as ’round one.’

Round two is expected to deliver 15 projects, with bigger windfarms located further from shore and a total capacity of up to 7.2GW. Round two development will be focused in the Thames Estuary, the Greater Wash and off the coast of North Wales and North West England, the biggest projects by far being the 1GW London Array and the 1.2GW Triton Knoll.

The London Array project will see up to 341 turbines generating 1,000MW each go up 20km off the coast and is the result of cooperation between Shell WindEnergy, E.ON UK Renewables and CORE Ltd.

The Thanet wind farm, initiated by Warwick Energy, will comprise up to 100 turbines each producing 300MW.

Environment secretary David Miliband said the offshore projects should mark the beginning of large-scale development of offshore wind in Britain:

“We expect this announcement will be the first of a number of large-scale offshore wind farms in the UK and will provide real impetus for the continued developments in the offshore renewable energy sector that will benefit generations to come.

“By issuing the licences to build the world’s largest offshore wind farms in the Thames Estuary we are re-enforcing the UK’s commitment to renewable energy and combating climate change and ocean acidification,” he said.

The British Wind Energy Association said that consent for the offshore farms sends a “clear signal from the UK to the rest of the world that this country is open for business for offshore wind.”

“The significance of these decisions is far greater than the projects themselves, although they will bring many notable benefits to the UK in terms of clean carbon free generation,” said BWEA chief executive Maria McCaffery.”

The UK has the biggest offshore wind potential in the world, totalling over a third of Europe’s entire wind resource, thanks to a combination of shallow waters and strong winds, according to the BWEA. Britain is set to over Denmark – which currently has the biggest installed offshore wind capacity – by 2008.

For more information on the London Array wind farm see

For details on the Thanet farm see

Goska Romanowicz

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