UK’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Now Operational

The UK’s largest offshore wind farm at Scroby Sands, off Caister, Norfolk, is now officially inaugurated and generating power for as many as 41,000 homes. The occasion marks the culmination of more than a decade of planning and development and reinforces the UK’s increasing commitment to commercial-scale renewable energy projects.

“Today is an exciting step in the UK’s energy revolution,” said Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. “Connecting Scroby Sands to the grid establishes the UK as the world’s second-biggest generator of offshore wind power. Our plans for further offshore wind farms around the UK represent the world’s biggest-ever expansion of renewable energy, plans that are good for the environment, good for Britain’s energy needs and good for the economy.” The GBP 75 million (US$ 140 million), 60 MW project was developed and is owned and operated by E.ON UK and uses 30, 2 MW wind turbines from Danish wind turbine company Vestas. The site is located on a sand bank known as the Middle Scroby Sands, which lies approximately 3 km east of the Great Yarmouth Borough coastline, in the county of Norfolk. E.ON UK and Vestas were also involved in the first offshore two turbine pilot project at Blyth Offshore, Northumberland, which helped provide the skills and experience to build Scroby Sands. The Blyth and Scroby projects were supported by European Commission Thermie funding. Timetable consent was granted in April 2002, and E.ON UK started offshore construction in Autumn 2003. The Scroby Sands wind project is, by far, the most advanced UK utility-scale offshore wind farm, and through feedback of information via a European Union contract will provide valuable information to other developers planning more ambitious projects further offshore. Most of the areas of seabed to be allocated by Crown Estate are likely to be further offshore than the Scroby Sands wind farm – possibly averaging 5 km as opposed to Scroby’s 3 km offshore. As such, the wind turbines at Scroby will be more visible from the shore for a higher percentage of the year than those of future projects. This reflects the fact that the Scroby project is an appropriate ‘next step’ after Blyth, and will not be typical (in terms of distance from shore) of the majority of future UK offshore wind farms. E.ON UK is one of the largest renewable generators in the UK. The company has stakes in 20 wind farms across the country, is co-firing biomass alongside coal at two of its power stations and owns the largest hydro power station in England and Wales. The company already has plans for using the experience gained from the construction and early operation of the Scroby Sands wind farm to harness wind energy from more harsh offshore environments in less sheltered waters, around the UK.

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