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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 Schrag4 on 9/23/2010 1:05:43 PM , Rating: 2
Im not sayign we shouldnt have nuclear tho. I am in favour of a large mix of solar, wind, geothermal, wave, nuclear, bio etc. However nuclear should only be used as "backup".

Maybe, but for when the wind doesn't blow AND the sun doesn't shine, you need enough capacity from relatively constant energy sources like nuclear to power everything. So is the point of wind/solar to reduce the amount of nuclear fuel we use? Are we afraid we're going to run out of it? With reprocessing, is waste storage really an issue? Please enlighten me.

By cannonac on 9/24/2010 5:16:29 AM , Rating: 5
The UK had a really hard start to the year with temperatures as low as -15deg C (more than 10 degrees lower than normal for our winter). During that time, the wind farms in Britain produced 2% of their rated output. Not 20% or 30%, but 2%!

Average load capacity for wind farms in Britain is 30%. Average nuclear load capacity is over 80% (I don't have those figures to hand at the moment). The largest cost to a nuclear plant is the initial build (£4-5,000 million), each fuel load costs about £100million (this is a guess) and a plant the size of Sizewell B (our only PWR) produces over £1million worth of electricity per day! So you recoup the cost in about 15 years.

The new AP1000 and EPRs are designed to have a lifetime of 60 years. The profits will pay for decommissioning costs (just so you know, the industry had a decommisioning fund, but Gordon Brown raided it when he became chancellor!) and the plants are designed to be easy to decommission (this is part of the site license conditions from the NII).

Yes, there is the problem of the high level waste, but the high level waste generated by the industry to date will fill less than 10 olympic swimming pools. Intermediate waste is more volumous, but is easier to store.

The point I'm trying to make here is that nuclear is a reliable, safe source of base load power. Renewables have their place in reducing the carbon footprint, but they cannot be relied upon to generate just when we need the power.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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