A Promising First Year Reported on Two UK Offshore Wind Farms

Annual progress reports from the two UK offshore wind farms, North Hoyle and Scroby Sands, announced that enough clean energy was produced to power almost 80,000 homes; more than a quarter of a million tons of greenhouse gas emissions were saved; impact was minimal on bird and sea life, the safety record was good, and valuable lessons were learned for the future development of a key industry.

The first major wind farm to be built in British waters was North Hoyle, which is located off the North Wales coast between Rhyl and Prestatyn. This 30-turbine / 60-megawatt (MW) project was developed and is operated by npower renewables and became fully operational in April 2004. The second, Scroby Sands is near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. This 30-turbine/60 MW scheme has been developed and run by E.ON UK Renewables. “The Government has invested GBP 107 million in the first round of offshore wind farm development,” said the Minister for Energy Malcolm Wicks, “and the Energy Review published last month outlined measures to provide it with a further impetus as we move forward.” The wind farms have also received a positive response from the public. Surveys showed a rise in support for the project from 62% to 73% once the wind farm was in place, with only 5% opposing the scheme. Plus, the Scroby Sands information center had 35,000 visitors in its first year. The annual reports detail the wind capacity at the sites over the first 12 months of operation, as well as the impact on access from adverse weather conditions. There are also details of the ongoing environmental monitoring, information on maintenance plus health and safety records. Kevin McCullough, managing director of npower renewables said of North Hoyle, “It performed well during the first full year of operation, with both operating costs and generation broadly in line with expectations. Availability of the wind turbines for generation improved during the year, giving confidence that if wind speeds are in line with budget, greater generation will be achieved in future years. “Our close working relationship with Vestas Celtic Wind Technology Limited, our operations and maintenance contractor, has reduced health and safety risks,” McCullough added. “Despite the challenging environment, in excess of 10,000 transfers between boats and wind turbine towers have been completed without a major incident.” Jason Scagell, Director of E.ON UK Renewables, said of Scroby Sands, “The wind farm still generated 153 GWh, which is around 90% of our forecast annual output. We’re certainly keen to continue working offshore and have four projects in various states of advancement that will allow us to use the lessons from Scroby in larger developments.”
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