The 2.4GW Hornsea 3 offshore wind farm has been granted construction permission in UK waters after Ørsted convinced the government that the project was necessary to meet its energy ambitions, despite projected bird kills.
On 31 December, UK energy secretary Alok Sharma granted Danish developers Ørsted a consent order for its 231-turbine 2400MW Hornsea Project Three Hornsea Project Three (2400MW) Offshoreoff Yorkshire , UK, Europe Click to see full details offshore project, in line with recommendations from a panel of examiners.
Ørsted acquired the entire Hornsea zone and the project rights from Smart Wind in August 2015, but the project has been delayed several times due to potential threats to England’s biggest seabird territory off the Yorkshire coast. In particular, the energy secretary was concerned that the 696km2 development could have a “likely significant effect” on the integrity of three EU-protected sites, including the Flamborough and Filey Coast special protection area (SPA).
In response, Ørsted decided to reduce the number of turbines from around 300 to 231 with a lower rotor tip height and a reduction in total swept area. Following additional ecological information submitted by Ørsted, including compensatory schemes to build four artificial nesting towers on land for the birds to roost, the examiners concluded that there would be no adverse effects to the protected kittiwakes within the SPA.
In his decision letter, Sharma disagreed but backed the project anyway, arguing that the development was in line with the UK’s national policy for renewable energy infrastructure.
The UK’s energy secretary said that “substantial weight” towards meeting the country’s national need for renewable energy applied and that the project would help go towards the government’s aspirations to deliver a significant volume of offshore wind in the 2020s.
The UK government has set a target of 40GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030 on a path to 65-125GW by 2050. It has allocated a separate pot to the offshore sector in its forthcoming 12GW contracts for difference auction rounds scheduled for later this year.
To date, the UK has installed 10,429MW of offshore capacity. Ørsted currently owns 29.18 % of the market share, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly.
According to the bird charity the RSPB, Hornsea 3's 8MW turbines are expected to kill roughly 73 kittiwakes a year. Martin Harper, the RSPB's director for global conservation described the decision to approve Hornsea 3 as a “gamble with the future of our globally important kittiwakes”.