UK’s largest offshore wind demonstration site gets go ahead

Development of the UK's largest offshore wind demonstration site has received dual planning consents for the construction of the site and the onshore substation.

Once completed, the site will be used by manufacturers and wind farm developers to learn new approaches across the supply chain, including the study of alternative foundation types and construction methods for the development, deployment, operation and maintenance of new turbine technologies.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has granted permission to the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) to construct the grid-connected 99.9MW demonstration project, comprising 15 turbines in three arrays off the coast of Blyth in Northumberland.

Northumberland County Council has also granted permission for the construction of the supporting onshore infrastructure including the electrical substation that will transfer the power created by the demonstration turbines to the grid.

The project is the first large-scale deep water demonstration site in the UK to be granted both offshore permits and onshore consent and according to Narec, is a “pivotal strand” in helping to lower the costs associated with Round 3 offshore wind farms

Narec says the project is seen as an essential facility for industry to test next-generation offshore wind technology cost-effectively, in realistic environmental conditions and before commercial production.

The £350m demonstration site will see construction of the first array completed in 2015.

MMO head of offshore marine licensing, Shaun Nicholson, said: “We aim to enable sustainable growth in making decisions about developments at sea. We consider economic benefits alongside any adverse impacts, such as on the environment and other users of the marine area. We have worked with Narec to ensure the development satisfied such conditions.”

Meanwhile, new research published today that looks at public acceptability towards energy developments and the role of community benefit packages, shows that the British public would choose to have an Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facility built in their community rather than an onshore wind farm.

The research, which surveyed 2000 respondents across the UK, found that having an EfW facility built in the local community is considered acceptable or very acceptable by 78% of the population, compared to 73% for onshore wind.

Leigh Stringer

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