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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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RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By Aloonatic on 9/23/2010 10:54:13 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, but think of the terrrrooooorrrrr!!!!!

Seriously though, it seems that people in the UK are pretty much like people in the US (going by this site), i.e. can't understand why more reactors aren't being built.

There are a few problems though. Firstly, just to get a reactor through planning would take years. Secondly, British energy was sold off to the French (EDF) and I believe that they said that they were going to build more reactors at the time, but no sooner had the ink dried on the contract, they said, nahhhh, forget it.

I have no idea why they [the powers that be] find it so hard to see that nuclear is the only real way to go, or at least the best option for the core of power generation. I'm not sure how much supply/demand/pricing is a factor to be honest. If you build a couple of nuclear power stations and increase the potential capacity for generation, then will that have an affect on how much they can charge?

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By Dribble on 9/23/2010 11:11:30 AM , Rating: 2
Britain is starting to build a load of new nuclear reactors. Problem is it's a much smaller place then the USA which means density of people objecting to everything is even greater.

No one much cares what goes in the North Sea so wind is a good option there.

The other huge boom area believe it or not is solar. There's a silly guaranteed buy back rate for home produced solar power meaning companies are springing up effectively offering to install and run it for free.

The big fear in the UK is having to rely on Russia for natural gas, fortunately Norway is an alternative, but even so anything to drop gas usage is popular.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/2010 11:35:23 AM , Rating: 2
Being energy indenpendent is the best option ;)

Nobody really wish to depend on energy from others. Friends, neutrals or foes.

Saudi Arabia etc is molesting human rights and everything else. But nobody dares to say a word as along as we need the oil.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 12:21:37 PM , Rating: 2
Import from somewhere else if you have personal moral issues with Saudi Arabia.

Energy exports are the very basis for the economic livelihood of hundreds of countries globally. Being energy independent is not even feasible for hundreds more. If I can feed a starving african in exchange for some petroleum, that's a fair enough exchange.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 12:55:36 PM , Rating: 2
Give me a break, Vestas makes almost all of the wind turbines in Wyoming, who by the way produce about one six of your entire countries wind energy (in TW-h). It's your job security too, Dude.

By Schrag4 on 9/23/2010 12:57:10 PM , Rating: 3
...while you seem to be all about starving Africans...


RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By Aloonatic on 9/23/2010 12:11:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure that we have started to build anything yet. I might be wrong though of course. There are lots of plans though, but there are always plans. I'll believe that they are being built when I see it, or at least a bunch of hippies clinging on to heavy machinery as the work begins.

However, I haven't even heard the years of ranting by environmentalists on Radio 2 yet, which will almost certainly go along with the loooong, drawn out, planning permission phases as people get upset by the idea of another "Chernobyl" (or whatever other hysterical nonsense the media can whip up) being built near them.

By cannonac on 9/24/2010 5:19:52 AM , Rating: 2
No, we've not started to build anything yet. Planning applications have been submitted for a couple of sites (Hinkley and Sizewell? maybe) but there is nothing being built yet.

The GDA process (Generic Design Assessment) has to complete in June 2011 before the NII will grant licenses to begin the Pre-Construction phase of the build.

The current plan is to have the first EPR built and commissioned by 2018. I reckon 2020 is more realistic.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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