Power was generated by two of the 48 turbines that will make up the wind farm when fully built, the first electricity generated under the second competitive tender process for exclusives rights for offshore wind farms in the UK as determined by the Crown Estate, which owns the country's seabed.
"The first power from Gunfleet Sands is a tangible result of our efforts to increase our production of renewable energy," says Niels Bergh-Hansen, executive vice president of Dong. Construction began last October and so far 16 wind turbines have been erected.
The Gunfleet Sands project, located some seven kilometers south-east of Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, consists of two phases: Gunfleet Sands I, with 30 turbines and Gunfleet Sands II, with 18 turbines - the smallest of the second-round sites. The project's turbines are being mounted atop monopile foundations of five-metre diameter, with overall length up to 50 metres, penetrating the seabed up to 40 metres.
With combined capacity of 173 MW, the project will consist entirely of Siemens 3.6 MW Siemens wind turbines, producing enough electricity for about 120,000 households, or roughly 20% of all households in Essex and contributing to the UK goal of slashing carbon emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2010. All permits for both phases of the project are in place. The wind farm will achieve full production in 2010.
Gunfleet Sands is the oldest among Britain's offshore projects, having attained government support in 1997. In the past it has been owned by global power companies Enron and GE Energy, among others, before being acquired by Dong in 2006.