1800 MW Formally Submitted for UK Offshore Wind

The UK offshore wind industry is making significant progress in its second phase of development with the recent submission for permitting approval of a new 300 MW project — the third in the current roster of new offshore wind farms.

This latest announcement from Thanet Offshore Wind Limited means that all three of the large-scale wind farms planned for development in the Thames Estuary strategic area — a total of 1800 MW of capacity — are now being considered by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). According to the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), both organizations will be seeking views from statutory and non-statutory consultees over the coming weeks. “This is excellent progress for the UK offshore sector, showing developers’ enthusiasm to invest in these large-scale projects. While the offshore wind industry continues to face key challenges on the economic and technical fronts, confidence remains high that solutions can be found,” said BWEA’s Head of Offshore, Dr Gordon Edge. Among this round of offshore wind farms, first past the line was the London Array in June this year. The 1,000-MW flagship project, being developed by the consortium of CORE Ltd, E.ON UK Renewables and Shell WindEnergy, potentially represents sufficient green electricity to power one quarter of greater London homes, while meeting 10 percent of the Government’s 2010 targets for renewable. Next to submit was the 500-MW Greater Gabbard project, developed by Airtricity and Fluor, in October this year. This project is unique as it is the first offshore wind farm to seek consent outside UK territorial waters, enabled by the Energy Act 2004 under which a Renewable Energy Zone has been declared for the UK continental shelf. Thanet Offshore Wind Farm recently applied for consent to construct and operate 300 MW, noting the high level of public support received locally for the project, with 73 percent of people who attended public exhibitions about the scheme in June this year saying they were supportive, and only 7 percent against. All three projects have accompanied their applications with rigorous environmental and technical surveys, and are seeking permission to build arrays of up to 270 turbines at sea, cables to shore buried under the sea floor, and onshore infrastructure such as substations required to link the generators to the national grid. If consents are awarded within 12 months, then construction could start in 2007-08, with the projects being built out over a number of years after that. The second phase of development of the UK offshore wind industry, Round 2, comprises 15 sites, totaling as much 7,200-MW, to be developed in three strategic areas around the UK coastline, the Thames Estuary, the Greater Wash, off the East of England coast, and the North West, including the Liverpool Bay area. The first of the projects in the North West, npower renewables’ 750-MW Gwynt y Mor, is expected to apply for its consent to build and operate soon. Round 2 follows on from the successful Round 1 of development, where a total of 18 sites, limited to 30 turbines per site, were proposed at 13 locations around the UK. Three of these projects are now generating electricity, including the newly completed Kentish Flats, with a fourth, Barrow Offshore, expected to be commissioned in early 2006. Meanwhile, the DTI has also announced consenting guidance for wave and tidal stream projects. These arrangements allow for the deployment of what the DTI has called ‘pre-commercial demonstration projects’ of around 3-5 MW by outlining that the consenting process will be proportionate to the scale of the project. By announcing GBP 2 million (USD $3.4 million) for generic monitoring DTI also allows for an information gathering process that will help inform decision making for larger projects going forward. As expected it also states that any lease at this stage will also be limited in time.
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