United Kingdom

United Kingdom

British flagships on the move -- First round two project approvals

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Two large offshore wind projects to be built in the Thames Estuary east of London have been given the green light by the UK government. The London Array and Thanet projects total 1.3 GW -- equivalent to more than 1% of UK electricity supply. They are the first wind farms to be consented under Britain's second round of bigger offshore projects sited further out to sea.

London Array's up to 341 turbines, each rated at 3-7 MW capacity, together with five substations and four meteorological masts, will occupy an area of 232 square kilometres about 20 kilometres from the Kent and Essex coasts. The project is being developed by a consortium of Shell Wind Energy, E.ON UK and CORE, a joint venture between the project's originator, Farm Energy, and Denmark's DONG Energy. The wind farm will be built in two phases to allow bird studies before proceeding to the second stage. Before it can proceed, it needs to secure consent for the onshore connection; a public inquiry is to be held into the company's plans for a substation near Faversham after Swale Borough Council turned down the consortium's application in June 2006.

The first round two project in the water looks set to be Warwick Energy's 300 MW Thanet wind farm, which is being fast tracked for completion in 2008. Vestas has already been selected as preferred supplier of the 100 turbines to be sited some 11 kilometres off the north-east Kent coast. Other major contractors lined up are SLP, to provide the turbine foundations and a Siemens/Prysmian consortium for the cables and electrical components. Deutsche Bank is a strategic partner and key shareholder in the £500 million project. According to Mark Pettersen from Warwick Energy, contracts are expected to be finalised in early 2007, with work starting in early summer.

Maria McCaffery from the British Wind Energy Association comments that the significance of the decisions is far greater than the projects themselves. "Far more important is the clear signal from the UK to the rest of the world that this country is open for business for offshore wind and we look forward to more consents in the near future." The UK has up to 8700 MW of offshore wind at various stages of development.

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