United Kingdom

United Kingdom

UK builds on number 1 slot

UK offshore is not resting on its laurels despite its world-leading status. We report that next-generation turbines and ambitious Round 3 plans are set to boost capacity significantly

London Array 1 is the UK’s largest operational offshore wind farm
London Array 1 is the UK’s largest operational offshore wind farm

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Already ‘top of the league’ for installed offshore wind capacity, the UK is also among the handful of countries planning to add further significant capacity in the coming decade and beyond.

At the end of 2012, the UK’s operational offshore capacity exceeded 2GW — comfortably outstripping offshore wind pioneer Denmark, the other northern European countries and a handful of other early adopters in the global pecking order.

The UK’s capacity comprised 16 operational wind farms of various sizes and vintages, alongside a number of developments that have recently begun to come on line and are set for full commissioning shortly. At 317MW, Statoil and Statkraft’s Sheringham Shoal, on the east coast, was the latest project of significant scale to be completed. The final few of its 88 turbines were commissioned towards the end of 2012.

The UK was also anticipating installation of the thousandth turbine in its waters at the turn of the year. This will be a significant milestone in the development of the UK’s capacity.

The completion of many of the UK’s remaining Round 2 developments is scheduled for the 2013-15 period. London Array 1’s full 630MW capacity is set to come on stream this year, as is the full 270MW at Centrica’s east coast Lincs development. Located in the outer Thames estuary, London Array 1 will become the UK’s largest operational offshore wind farm.

And RWE’s Gwynt y Môr project, under construction in the Irish Sea, will add 576MW towards the end of 2014. DONG Energy’s 389MW West of Duddon Sands project is also due for completion in 2014. The company’s 240MW Westermost Rough project in the North Sea could add a further 240MW, should DONG decide to progress it.

After that, E.ON’s planned Humber Gateway project could add more than 200MW by around 2015, while NAREC’s 100MW offshore demo site could also come on stream around that time. Set to be a testing ground for ‘next generation’ turbines, the facility planned off Blyth, Northumberland, should help to spearhead the large-scale expansion of UK capacity, as Round 3 sites are developed. Indeed, it is the development of the Round 3 zones that will raise the UK’s capacity significantly over the next decade or so.

Zoning in

The 8,660 square kilometre Dogger Bank zone, off England’s east coast, is the largest of the Round 3 zones. Forewind — a consortium comprising RWE, SSE, Statoil and Statkraft — is adopting a phased approach to development and recently unveiled the boundaries for the zone’s first four projects. For each one, Forewind has pencilled in up to 1.2GW of capacity, scheduled to come on stream towards the end of the decade. The zone as a whole will be developed as a series of up to eight separate, similarly sized wind farms by 2020 and beyond.

At more than 7GW, the capacity planned for the East Anglia Round 3 zone is almost as large. Iberdrola-owned Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall plan to develop the zone in phases. The progression of the East Anglia One Offshore Windfarm could see an initial 1.2GW coming on stream around 2018. The addition of further tranches — East Anglia II-VI — would see the zone’s 7.2GW total reached in the years after 2020.

And the 4,735 square kilometre Hornsea zone, also located in the North Sea, is the focus of 4GW of development plans. Smartwind — comprising Mainstream, Siemens and DONG — plans to develop 1.2GW of capacity as the zone’s first tranche. ‘Project One’ would comprise up to three arrays.

Meanwhile, off Scotland’s east and north-east coasts, two Round 3 zones are also the focus of significant development plans. More than 1GW of planned capacity in the Moray Firth is in the permitting process. Assuming the developers EDP Renováveis and Repsol receive the green light, the Stevenson, MacColl and Telford projects could begin to come on stream towards the end of the decade. The Moray Firth zone as a whole could host up to 1.5GW over the longer term.   

The phased development of the Firth of Forth zone could see the arrival of around 3.5GW of capacity. The initial phase would see two 525MW offshore wind farms being developed by Seagreen Wind Energy, the 50/50 joint venture between Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Fluor. Seagreen has submitted applications for ‘Project Alpha’ and ‘Project Bravo’, each of which would comprise up to 75 turbines. Around 2.6GW of capacity is planned for phases 2 and 3.   

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