World’s largest offshore wind farm officially opened

The world’s largest offshore wind farm, the London Array,  has been officially opened by the Prime Minister David Cameron. 

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The huge 100km2 installation – which is located in the outer Thames Estuary – features 175 Siemens 3.6MW turbines with a combined generating capacity of 630MW.  The facility is expected to produce enough electricity to power over half a million UK homes each year.

The site has been developed by a consortium made up of DONG Energy, Denmark’s biggest energy company, which has a 50 per cent share; E.On Renewables, which owns 30 per cent; and Masdar,  the Abu Dhabi state-owned renewable energy company, which owns 20 per cent of the facility.

Originally, Shell had a large share in the venture, but the Anglo-Dutch oil giant pulled out in 2008 throwing the future of the project into doubt until Masdar came on the scene.

Construction began in July 2009 when work started to build a new onshore substation on the north Kent coast. The first offshore foundation was installed in March 2011, and the final turbine was installed in December 2012. The facility began generating power for the grid in October 2012

Over 75 organisations, and around 6,700 individuals have been involved in the construction of the facility.

Speaking at the launch event, Brent Cheshire, UK Country Chairman, DONG Energy said: “This project is also a real milestone on the path to cutting the cost of offshore wind. As projects get even bigger and move further offshore, we must continue to harvest the advantages of scale to bring down the costs.”

The facility’s status as the worlds largest wind farm might be relatively short lived however.   In Scotland,  Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd – a joint venture between SSE renewables and Repsol Neuvas Energias – wants to install a 1000MW facility, consiting of up to 277 turbines in the Moray Firth. Meanwhile, Moray Offshore Renwables Ltd (a joint venture between EDP Renewables) and Repsol Nuevas) has submitted an application for an even bigger 1500MW installation in the outer Moray Firth .

London Array Facts

  • An offshore area of 100km2
  • 175 wind turbines
  • Two offshore substations
  • Nearly 450km of offshore cabling
  • One onshore substation
  • 630MW of electricity
  • Enough power for nearly half a million homes a year – two thirds of the homes in Kent
  • CO2 savings of 925,000 tonnes a year