The latest offshore wind farm to obtain approval from the British authorities is slated to be the largest renewable energy facility of its kind in the world upon completion.
The UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change has approved plans by ScottishPower Renewables and Sweden’s Vattenfall to build the East Anglia One offshore wind farm, which will generate 1,200 megawatts using a total of 240 turbines.
The proposed project will have a total power capacity nearly twice that of the world’s current largest offshore wind farm – the London Array, which is capable of generating 630 megawatts.
Situated approximately 40 kilometres from the Suffolk coast in the south of England, the offshore farm is expected by its developers to generate enough power for 820,000 households.
Power generated by the wind farm will be conveyed to land by means of four seabed export cables, each measuring around 73 kilometres in length. Another four onshore underground cables, each measuring roughly 37 kilometres in length, will subsequently transfer the electricity from the landfall site to an onshore converter station situated in Bramford, Suffolk, and to the National Grid.
The project will also result in major employment and economic benefits for the region, resulting in the creation of 2,900 jobs, including up to 170 positions for engineers and technicians, and 520 million pounds in investment.
“East Anglia and the rest of the UK have a lot to gain from this development,” said DECC secretary Ed Davey. “The project has the potential to inject millions into the local and national economies and support thousands of green jobs.”
The project will be a 50-50 joint venture between ScottishPower and Vattenfall. Construction is scheduled to commence in 2017 and generation is expected to begin in 2019.
The UK government is pushing hard to foster the development and usage of renewable energy, and has established the goal of making sustainable power sources comprise at least 15 per cent of national electricity generation by 2020.
Maria McCaffery, chief executive for industry body RenewableUK, called the approval for the offshore wind farm a “huge confidence boost” for the sector as a whole.
“Our world-beating offshore wind industry is set to more than treble in size by the end of the decade,” she said. “Projects like this will help us maintain our global lead. It’s heartening to see government backing this part of our industry extremely pro-actively.”