Milestone passed for UK offshore as two more wind farms enter service

The Walney 1 and Greater Gabbard wind arrays off the west and east coasts of England, respectively, both began sending clean electricity to the UK’s national grid for the first time this month, representing another major achievement in the region’s plan to meet a third of its electricity needs using wind power in the future.

Last Thursday, Dong Energy reported that the first of 51 wind turbines on the Walney 1 offshore wind farm off the coast of Cumbria in north west England had started producing its first clean electricity. Once fully operational, the Walney 1 and 2 wind farms will have a capacity of 367.2 megawatts (MW), enough to power around 320,000 homes or one-and-a-half times the number of homes in Cumbria.

“The United Kingdom has a very ambitious plan for expanding the production of renewable energy and a target of making green energy and reliability of supply go hand in hand, and we are pleased to be able to contribute to the expansion of renewable energy", comments Niels Bergh-Hansen, Executive Vice President of Dong Energy "The first power from Walney 1 is a tangible result of our efforts to increase our production of renewable energy.”

The Walney wind farm site is located approximately 15 kilometres west of Barrow-in-Furness and each farm will comprise 51 turbines. The construction of Walney 1 began in March 2010, and all turbines in the wind farm have now been installed, and will be commissioned over the coming months. The second phase of the project, Walney 2, will begin installation in March 2011 and is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2011. Once fully operational, the wind farms, which will cost a total of £1 billion to complete, will employ around 60 people.

“This is a major milestone in the development of Walney and it demonstrates the excellent progress being made on the project,” said Colin Hood, Chief Operating Officer of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), one of the stakeholders in the Walney project. “As the UK’s leading generator of electricity from renewable sources, SSE is committed to helping to increase further the amount of renewable electricity generation in the UK, and the export of electricity at Walney is a step towards achieving this.”

Elsewhere, SEE has been involved in the development of the Greater Gabbard wind farm, east of Suffolk in southern England. Three turbines of this 500-MW array began generating electricity on 14 January, a day after the Walney turbine started spinning. Greater Gabbard is a joint project between SEE and RWE AG’s npower renewables unit and will consist of 140 Siemens AG turbines on completion, scheduled for 2012.

The Walney and Greater Gabbard projects are part of the UK’s drive into offshore wind power to cut greenhouse gas emissions and help meet the European Union’s 2020 targets for renewable energy generation. When fully operational, the three wind farms will have the capacity to power 850,000 homes. The Walney and Great Gabbard turbines now in operation join those on fourteen other offshore wind farms that are already producing electricity, including the Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farm shown in the photo.

40 GW slated

It is proposed that offshore wind could make a contribution of up to 40 GW to UK electricity generation capacity, equivalent to more than a third of UK electricity consumption.

This total generating capacity will be realised from the 8 GW due to be commissioned under the Crown Estate’s existing leasing Rounds 1 and 2, the 6.4 GW announced in 2009 in Scottish territorial waters, and the capacity expected from the recently announced Round 3 which has the aim to install 25 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2020.

For additional information:

Crown Estate: Offshore wind


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