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The new Thanet wind farm produces 300 MW of electricity, making it the world's largest offshore wind farm.  (Source: Vattenfall AB)
Nation now has 5 GW of installed wind capacity, enough to provide 4 percent of its power needs

In the United Kingdom today, excitement was afoot as the world's largest wind power installation went online.  The 300 MW farm was constructed by Swedish alternative energy firm Vattenfall AB.  It is located on the North Sea, on the east face of the island, approximately 2 hours east of the capital city of London.

England's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne comments, "The U.K. is going to be the fastest-growing market for renewable energy anywhere for the next couple of years.  We will urge the wind industry to install 10 times more capacity by 2020. To this end, we are currently talking to General Electric and companies such as Siemens and Mitsubishi will play a part."

The nation aims to get 15 percent of its power from alternative energy by 2020.  With the latest addition the country now gets 4 percent of its power from wind.  Wind is arguably England's greatest alternative energy resource; as it is at a northern latitude it doesn't get quite as much direct sunlight, but its sea-bordered location makes for steady winds.

The new farm, located near the city of Thanet, the farm increases Britain's offshore wind total to 1,341 MW.  With its 3,715 megawatts of onshore wind, the nation now has over 5 GW of total wind power capacity -- enough to power an estimated 2.7 million homes.

The project is estimated to cost £800M (roughly $1.253B USD) according to Top News UK, or £900M (roughly $1.409B USD) according to Bloomberg.

The installation covers 35 km2 and consists of 100 Vestas Wind Systems A/S V90/3000 wind turbines.  The V90 is an example of the growing class of "super-turbines" designed for offshore use.  It generates 3 MW of power at peak and its blades span 90 meters.

Deploying offshore wind power is logistically tougher, as it requires you to install turbines at sea that can withstand ocean storms, and additionally to install undersea transmission cables.  However, it has the potential to generate more electricity than onshore installations, due to the stronger wind currents -- which in turn may lead to lower cost per kWh than tradition onshore turbines.

As opposed to the onshore wind power industry, which is dominated by established players, the offshore wind power industry is just now taking off.  The UK is working to position itself at the center of that new industry.

And early indications are that those efforts are yielding success; a number of companies -- General Electric Co., Siemens AG and Clipper Windpower Plc -- recently announced plans to build offshore wind turbine factories in the UK.  RenewableUK Chief Executive Officer Maria McCaffery comments, "The onshore wind supply chain is already well established in Germany, Denmark and Spain. Nobody has an onshore wind supply chain, and we want that to be here. U.K. manufacturing protects us totally from exchange-rate fluctuations."

The UK is aiming for 13 to 14 GW of installed onshore wind power capacity by 2020, as well.  It recently approved 32.200 GW in projects, giving licenses to Centrica Plc, RWE AG and Statoil ASA.

The U.S. is currently preparing similar offshore wind projects, but has seen construction and development delayed from lawsuits from a variety of groups including citizens who claim offshore turbines mar their view and damage property values; Native Americans; and environmental activists, who claim the turbines disrupt offshore wildlife.

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U.S holds itself back
By stimudent on 9/23/2010 10:22:40 AM , Rating: 1
As other countries race ahead with new technology like this and become leaders, the U.S is held back by lawsuits, red tape, and special interests. A self destruct sequence seems to be in progress.

RE: U.S holds itself back
By Keeir on 9/23/2010 10:39:45 AM , Rating: 3
Or... the US waits to invest in proven alternative technology. This installation cost a pretty penny. Its about 2x price per usable capacity as a single reactor Nuclear Power Plant or 2.5x price per usable capacity as a multi-reactor Nuclear Power Plant.

I am unsure about the running costs associated with offshore wind. But in the US, Nuclear Power Plants operate at ~ 2 cents per kilowatt hour... it would take some very low running costs for the offshore wind to offset the higher starting investment.

Let other countries pay for companies to design better installations...

RE: U.S holds itself back
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
RE: U.S holds itself back
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 11:01:13 AM , Rating: 3
Those offshore composite turbines aren't cheap to build, transfer power from or maintain. So umm... I respectfully disagree. Nuclear power with with modern plant design and no BS regulations is cheaper per megawatt.

RE: U.S holds itself back
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
RE: U.S holds itself back
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 11:11:02 AM , Rating: 3
Until 20 years down the line when the Nuclear plant is still producing the same amount of energy reliably, and the broken, inconsistent, problematic wind farm has been 125% replaced with new equipment.

RE: U.S holds itself back
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
RE: U.S holds itself back
By weskurtz0081 on 9/23/2010 11:34:24 AM , Rating: 3
They were putting these turbines up in the 80's?

RE: U.S holds itself back
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
RE: U.S holds itself back
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 12:08:02 PM , Rating: 2
You miss the point. How many of those originals are still working 30 years later?

RE: U.S holds itself back
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
RE: U.S holds itself back
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 1:46:06 PM , Rating: 2
Pure BS. You are much safer in a Nuclear plant than a wind farm. Strict fail safes negate any radiation or meltdown risks, and the "waste" can be reprocessed for more energy or other uses.

Here is one source just from Scotland that catalogues wind farm accidents. It is higher than the accidents from nuclear production in the entire USA.

RE: U.S holds itself back
By clovell on 9/24/2010 3:55:59 PM , Rating: 2
Who's ever actually in a wind farm?

RE: U.S holds itself back
By rcc on 9/23/2010 12:23:35 PM , Rating: 2
And the highest electrical costs world wide. That does tell us something I suppose.

RE: U.S holds itself back
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
RE: U.S holds itself back
By rcc on 9/23/2010 1:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
And all those are life choices for you that most of the world chooses not to make.

Our power companies are largely private and your costs are still 3-4 times higher. If you choose to overtax it to subsidize other functions, that's your country's choice.

So, just out of curiousity, if your power is green, why the need to go to such lenghts to conserve it?

RE: U.S holds itself back
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: 0
RE: U.S holds itself back
By rcc on 9/23/2010 5:30:20 PM , Rating: 2
To spark innovation you either need excesses, or a great need. Innovation doesn't come from sitting happy and conserving.

Innovation will happen, what changes is the rate.

RE: U.S holds itself back
By nafhan on 9/23/2010 10:58:26 AM , Rating: 2
Another reason to wait: the cost to install renewable power has been dropping year after year. Building new nuclear baseline power now and renewables later - once the cost has gone down - may make a lot more sense.

RE: U.S holds itself back
By Murloc on 9/23/2010 12:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
yeah right.
Since when research has been profitable in the immediate time?

if you don't "waste" money, you won't be the next advanced nation.

RE: U.S holds itself back
By Keeir on 9/23/2010 3:40:32 PM , Rating: 2
Ummm... 300 MW is not a "test". Its at least 100 wind towers built using existing designs and installation procedures. That to me is not R&D.

Unless I am missing something? These are a special type of tower? These are located in a unique pattern/location?

RE: U.S holds itself back
By roadhog1974 on 9/23/2010 6:28:28 PM , Rating: 2
While the cost factor is there, I would suggest that
a wind farm scales better, is easier to maintain, upgrade
and decommission than nuclear is, not the mention the mess
factor that fission suffers from.

RE: U.S holds itself back
By kattanna on 9/23/2010 10:45:42 AM , Rating: 2
well.. when you have the white house office of science and technology director stating that we need to "de-develop" the united states, what do you expect?

RE: U.S holds itself back
By axeman1957 on 9/23/2010 10:50:30 AM , Rating: 2
Do you read any facts before you open your mouth?

"At the end of 2009, the installed capacity of wind power in the United States was just over 35,000 megawatts (35 GW), making it the world leader ahead of Germany"

35,000 > 5,000

RE: U.S holds itself back
By Phil00 on 9/23/2010 6:48:30 PM , Rating: 2
Pot calling kettle black??

If you read it, it states that this is the largest Offshore wind farm. Just how many offshore wind farms does the US have?

RE: U.S holds itself back
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 11:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
Enough to make them worthwhile. If you can't do the math, that number equals zero. Which is the I hope it will stay until they are anything except a retarded liberal political lobbying issue instead of an efficient and reliable means of power generation.

RE: U.S holds itself back
By axeman1957 on 9/24/2010 4:28:36 PM , Rating: 2
yes because putting it off shore is a technological advance...

"I have invented a 200 foot cement column"

The wind turbines are the technology, meaning this farm has little technological advances over the wind farms in the US

"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs

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