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United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Second biggest in British waters

The UK government has approved construction of what could be the world's second largest offshore wind farm for a number of years. The 750 MW Gwynt y Môr project off north Wales is being developed by RWE subsidiary Npower Renewables. Among offshore wind farms in an advanced stage of development, Gwynt y Môr is dwarfed only by the London Array 1 GW project off England's south-east coast.

Up to 250 turbines will lie eight miles off the north Wales coast in water depths of between 12 and 34 metres, depending on tides. They will be installed near two more of Npower's offshore developments, its five year old 60 MW North Hoyle wind farm, which has been operating since 2003, and the 90 MW Rhyl Flats project, which is under construction. Npower says construction of Gwynt y Môr could begin in 2011 with completion in 2014.

The consent for Gwynt y Môr brings the total capacity of British offshore wind farms with approval to 4.5 GW. More than 2 GW in six projects have been approved in the past year alone. Granting consents to the project, Secretary of State for energy and climate change Ed Miliband says the north Wales coast is set to become a powerhouse for renewable energy. "Gwynt y Môr will be the largest of four offshore wind farms which combined will have the potential to power the equivalent of around 680,000 homes with green electricity," he says. "The UK is leading the world in offshore wind and the developments off the coast of North Wales will help keep us front runners."

The wind farm could provide a major share of Wales' target for offshore wind. Nearly a year ago, the Welsh Assembly local government announced plans for Wales to become self-sufficient in renewable electricity by 2025, with a third of it from wind. The assembly expects onshore wind to supply up to 2500 MW of capacity, while up to 1000 MW could come from offshore wind.

Some assembly members oppose the Gwynt y Môr project. Conservative member Darren Millar is urging the Welsh Assembly government to demand a judicial review of the UK government's decision to approve the wind farm.

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