Dong Energy

The world's biggest wind farm will soon be built off the UK coast

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DAVID NIELD
5 FEB 2016
 

In recent years, wind power has taken second billing to solar technology in its contribution to the world's energy supply, but the industry has been given a huge boost this week: Danish firm, Dong Energy, has announced plans to build the largest wind farm yet, located off the north-east coast of the UK in the North Sea.

Turbines standing 190 metres tall (623 feet) - higher than the iconic Gherkin building in the centre of London - will eventually provide enough power for a million homes, once the project is up and running in 2020. Set to be located some 75 miles (121 km) off the coast of Yorkshire, it will be the first offshore wind farm to exceed 1 gigawatts in capacity and will be capable of producing 1.2 GW of power at its upper limit.

 

"It is ground-breaking and innovative, powering more homes than any offshore wind farm currently in operation," said Dong Energy UK country chairman, Brent Cheshire. "To have the world's biggest ever offshore wind farm located off the Yorkshire coast is hugely significant, and highlights the vital role offshore wind will play in the UK's need for new low-carbon energy."

The UK has more offshore wind installations than any other country, The Guardian reports, and although the installation and maintenance costs are higher, the government is said to prefer offshore farms to those constructed on land due to the difficulties in finding suitable sites and getting planning permission. Last year, Dong Energy predicted that a third of all UK power could be provided by wind by 2030.

Due to the newness of the technology and the high costs involved, government support is essential part of encouraging private companies to invest in wind power. The UK authorities have recently cut subsidies for onshore wind, solar and biomass energy initiatives, citing the need to reduce costs and reduce the burden on the taxpayer - but such moves make firms wary about investing significant amounts of money in these technologies.

Around 2,000 jobs will be created during the construction of the new wind farm, with 300 permanent employees required to operate the offshore plant, and some of the 7 MW turbines will be built at a Siemens factory in the nearby city of Hull. Almost 965 km (600 miles) of cables will be responsible for harvesting the energy and getting it back to land, enough to stretch from one end of the UK to the other.

"This project means secure, clean energy for the country, jobs and financial security for working people and their families, and more skills and growth boosting the Northern Powerhouse," said Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Currently the largest wind farm in operation is the 630 MW London Array, although it's set to be overtaken by other installations before the new Dong Energy initiative, dubbed Hornsea Project One, is completed.

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