Growing technological advancements have led to a huge increase in the global wind power capacity in recent years. An accelerating shift to renewable energy in many countries has also propelled the growth of offshore wind capacity globally. Possessing ideal locations for wind power generation, the UK is one of the leading producers of offshore wind power in the world.
The UK witnessed a multifold growth in its renewable energy capacity, which increased to 40.7GW in 2017 from 7GW in 2008, according to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Its total wind power capacity surged from 3.4GW to 20.4GW in that period. The country’s offshore wind capacity jumped from just 596MW in 2008 to 7.5GW in 2017. In November 2016, the UK had also committed to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2025, as part of its plans to switch to generating energy from renewable sources.
Here is the list of list of biggest offshore wind farms in the UK:
Walney Extension: Located approximately 19km west of Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, off the North-West coast of England, the Walney Extension occupies first place in the list of biggest offshore wind farms in the UK. It is also regarded as the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm. With a capacity of 659MW, the wind farm was opened by Ørsted in September 2018. It has capacity to generate enough clean electricity to power more than 460,000 UK homes. Covering an area of 145km2 in the Irish Sea, the wind farm features 87 turbines including 40 units of MHI-Vestas 8.25MW turbines and 47 units of Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines. Representing as Ørsted’s 11th operational offshore wind farm in the UK, the Walney Extension uses wind turbines from two different manufacturers. The wind power project is jointly owned by Danish offshore wind developer Ørsted with 50% stake, and Danish pension funds PFA and PKA each with 25% interests.
London Array: The 630MW London Array offshore wind farm is the second in the list of biggest offshore wind farms in the UK. Located in the Thames Estuary, UK, Developed by a consortium of Masdar, E.ON and DONG Energy (now Ørsted). The offshore wind farm covers an area of approximately 100km². The wind farm has 175 wind turbines and generates enough electricity to power around half a million homes, and reduces 900,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. In August 2015, Cwind had won a contract to deliver two crew transfer vessels to the London Array offshore wind farm. The two vessels, namely the CWind Alliance and CWind Artimus, were contracted to support operation and maintenance (O&M) activities at the wind farm.
Gwynt y Môr: Consisting of 160 Siemens 3.6MW turbines, the Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm has a capacity of 576MW. It is located off the coast of North Wales, UK. The offshore wind farm generates enough energy to meet electricity needs of more than 400,000 homes in the UK. The wind farm extends over an area of about 80km² and includes two offshore substations and 134kms of onshore cable installations. The Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm was constructed with a cost of £2bn.
Race Bank: Located on the North Norfolk coast and off the Lincolnshire coast, the 573MW Race Bank offshore wind farm occupies fourth spot in the list of biggest offshore wind farms in the UK. Covering an area of 75km², the offshore wind farm has enough electricity generation to power more than half a million UK homes. It consists of 91 Siemens Gamesa 6MW wind turbines. The wind farm is owned by Danish energy company Ørsted (50%), Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 5 (25%), Sumitomo (12.5%), and funds advised by the Green Investment Group, Arjun Infrastructure Partners and Gravis Capital Management (12.5%). In October 2018, Ørsted secured approval from The Crown Estate for the development of the Race Bank Extension offshore wind farm. The proposed Race Bank Extension offshore wind project would be located adjacent to the existing Race Bank wind farm. Once complete, the extension wind farm is expected to generate 573MW of green electricity.
Greater Gabbard: With an installed capacity of 504MW, the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm finds fifth place in the list of biggest offshore wind farms in the UK. It was built with a cost of £1.5bn. Featuring 140 turbines rated at 3.6MW each, the offshore wind farm generates enough power to meet the energy needs of around 530,000 homes. It was developed by Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Limited (GGOWL), a joint venture between Airtricity and Fluor. In October 2017, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy secured service extension contract for Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm. The five-year contract involves operation and maintenance of the wind farm until 2022.