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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 iwanttobehef on 9/23/2010 7:57:59 PM , Rating: -1
I can't speak to the area nukes take up in Georgia, but the four different ones I have been inside take up more than a "few acres". Including out buildings security zones and especially if it needs to have a cooling pond I would put it at more like 4 sq miles or about 10 sq km. obviosly they all differ somewhat, but they are huge.

By sleepeeg3 on 9/23/2010 10:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
Fine, you want to nitpick? I will give you 10 sq km for a nuclear plant, since I could not find any data on it. Compare that to the 35 sq km x 24 farms = 840 square km of land, 37-story wind turbines would have to occupy to output the same amount of power as the two reactors at the Vogtle plant. Does wind still make sense?

Nevermind those pesky cost issues...

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By cannonac on 9/24/2010 5:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
ROFL! 4 sq miles? Have you any idea how stupid that makes you sound?

Looking at Google maps, Sizewell B, Britain's most modern reactor, occupies a plot of land approximately 400x600m. Now, I'm a physicist, but even my maths can't make 400m x 600m into 10 sq km!

Now, where's that new keyboard...

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By iwanttobehef on 9/24/2010 1:40:20 PM , Rating: 1
Is there a reason every one must be so hostile? I only spoke to the plants I have physically been to. Lets look at one of the plants I have worked in. Lasalle county IL. Its cooling pond alone is 2058 acres more than 8 sq km. add in the plant itself and it looks like I was being conservative.
I understand this is wikipedia so here is a link to exelon corp saying it is on a 3055 acre site. or more than 12 sq km.

Now I did your homework why don't you study some more next time.

By Digimonkey on 9/24/2010 2:14:15 PM , Rating: 2
That cooling pond is also referred to as a Illinois state park and opened to the public for boating/fishing. So the land serves another purpose. Just like how you can have windmill farms and still farm the land around them. So actually this whole conversation is rather pointless.

By cannonac on 9/25/2010 8:32:26 AM , Rating: 2
Touchy aren't we?

All of the British plants (apart from Trawsfynydd) are located on the coast, so you could say that they occupy millions of acres, but I digress.

Anyway, I think I misunderstood you purely because we don't use cooling ponds. The only cooling ponds that we use are the fuel cooling ponds, and they are really quite small.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

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