Go Ahead Given for 750-MW UK Wind Project

Proposals for a 750-megawatt (MW) offshore wind project that would be developed off the UK’s north Wales coast have been granted government approval. The world’s second largest offshore wind farm, the so-called Gwynt y Mor, is being developed by npower Renewables, a UK-based subsidiary of Germany’s RWE Innogy.

Granted consent by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the installation will comprise an array of up to 250 machines, each with an installed capacity of between 3 to 5 MW. Depending on the tides, the wind turbines would stand in water depths of between 12 and 34 meters, requiring a hub height of up to 100 meters and a rotor diameter of around 130 meters.

The individual wind turbines would be built 350-1000 meters apart to ensure optimum performance. Currently, it is anticipated that construction works, some 13 km offshore, could begin in 2011 with final commissioning in 2014.

“This is an important step towards realizing this ambitious project. The decision underlines the government’s commitment to massively expanding renewable energy generation in the UK to help tackle climate change and improve security of energy supply,” said Paul Cowling, managing director of npower Renewables.

The company already operates the 60-MW North Hoyle wind farm off the Welsh coast, the UK’s first major offshore wind farm. Its second offshore wind farm, Rhyl Flats, is now in construction also off the coast of north Wales, and is expected to be operational in 2009 with a total installed capacity of 90 MW.

“The north Wales coast is set to become a powerhouse for renewable energy. Gwynt y Mor will be the largest of four offshore wind farms which combined will have the potential to power the equivalent of around 680,000 homes,” said UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband.

According to the British Wind Energy Association, the government decision brings the total UK offshore projects with planning approval to 4.5 gigawatts.

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