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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: U.S holds itself back
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/2010 11:29:44 AM , Rating: -1
Wind turbines last 20-25 years. Nuclear plants last about 30-40 years.

However alot of maintenaince is required and alot of labour cost.

Solar panels last 50-80 years, tho with reduced effeciency over time.

Plus producing power via wind is still cheaper per kw/h compared to nuclear. You just seem to discard any other cost with nuclear.

Windpower cost ranges from 5-30cents depending on locations. Nuclear power ranges from 25-30cents with everything included. All per Kw/h naturally.

And even if onshore you can still use the land.

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.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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