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  (Source: Siemens AG)
Project cost $2.84B USD, exploits natural abundance of marine winds

Britain's miles of coasts are home to some of the world's most active marine winds, making them a prime place for offshore wind power.  The nation this week announced the opening of the world's largest marine wind farm installation, a monstrous 630 Megawatt, 175-turbine design dubbed "the London Array".

I. London Array is Turned On

The new farm is the latest bump for the UK, which has more installed offshore wind capacity than any other nation in the world.  The UK currently gets 12 percent of its energy from renewable energy, but it hopes to expand that to 30 percent by 2020.  New offshore wind installations are critical to that goal.

The new farm is located along the coastal border of Kent and Essex, to the northeast of London, facing the North Sea.  It uses Siemens AG's (ETR:SIE) SWT-3.6-120 turbines [PDF] (3.6 MW), which has three blades and a diameter of 117 meters.  The turbines are installed 20 kilometers (~12.4 miles) off the coast.

Here's some videos of the plans and construction of the farm and supporting substation.

The groups have petitioned to expand the installation to 870 MW, adding another 66 turbines to the current count.

II. Green Profit, But Energy Firms are Hungry for More

The new installation is a joint venture owned by Germany's E.ON SE (ETR:EOAN) (30% stake), United Arab Emirates' state-owned Masdar Abu Dhabi Future Energy Comp. (20% stake) and Danish state-owned Dong Energy A/S (50% stake).  It cost a whopping €2.2B ($2.84B USD) to build, but is expected to power a half million homes for at least 30 years.  

Its total annual generation is estimated by the developers to be 2.1 terawatt-hours (tWh) per year, but perhaps a more realistic metric would be 1.65 tWh, if you take the average capacity factor (29.6 percent) of UK offshore wind farms last year.

UK energy costs around 15 pence ($0.23 USD) per kWh [source], so this works out to somewhere between $379.5-483M USD in revenue per year, or roughly $11.4-14.5B USD in revenue over a 30-year lifespan.  However, Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced that the government would mandate incentives to drive the revenue per kWh to three times the base rate, which would be mean over $1B USD in revenue per year.

UK offshore wind
UK companies want longer term guarantees on gov't renewable energy financing commitments.
[Image Source: Siemens]

The UK has 3.3 GW worth of installed offshore wind capacity.  EON estimates the new farm will save 900,000 tons of carbon emissions per year.

While it appears to be a booming era for UK offshore wind, the manufacturers and energy companies are a bit disgruntled at the lack of longer term guarantees from the UK central government.  They wanted plans to run through 2030, but only got targets for 2020.

Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven tells Bloomberg, "[David Cameron's administration] needs to give the sector long-term certainty by agreeing to cut carbon completely from our electricity sector."

Sources: London Array [press release], Bloomberg

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Actual versus Nameplate.
By Prismsuk on 7/5/2013 4:39:51 AM , Rating: 3
Over here in the UK, we now have 5 GW of onshore wind capacity and 3 GW of offshore wind capacity.

At 6:00 am this morning, to 9:30 am, about 1.6 GW of wind power went into the National Grid (20% of nameplate capacity). Demand was at 25 GW at 6:00 pm, rising to 40 GW at 9:30 am.

What made up for that 'missing' 6.4 GW of the loudly trumpeted 8 GW of WIND TURBINE CAPACITY? Well, nuclear chugs along steadily at about 7.5 GW all of the time - 24/7.

Good job we've got nuclear, eh? Can't rely on wind to keep the lights on, can we?

RE: Actual versus Nameplate.
By jabber on 7/5/2013 5:05:20 AM , Rating: 1
And if the government dropped all the tax subsidies from Wind farms all of them would be scrapped within a week.

Wind Farm - Licence to leach tax payers money!

Still we'll just have to wait till folks cant charge their iPads and they will be begging for those new nuclear power stations they were so against to be built like yesterday.

RE: Actual versus Nameplate.
By Milv949 on 7/17/2013 9:08:10 AM , Rating: 2
Drop all the massive subsidies to nukes and fossils then we can talk about cutting the subsidies to clean energy.

RE: Actual versus Nameplate.
By Solandri on 7/5/2013 6:31:29 AM , Rating: 3
Offshore wind typically has a much higher capacity factor than onshore wind. Onshore is usually around 0.2-0.25 (though certain spots on earth can go much higher). Offshore is usually around 0.3-0.4, though a few spots can get as high as 0.6.

The article states the estimated generation is 2.1 TWh per year. That's 240 MW on average. Divide by the nameplate capacity of 630 MW and you get a capacity factor of 0.38. For comparison, solar is about 0.14 for the US (0.10 for northern Europe), hydro about 0.4, coal about 0.6, and nuclear about 0.9. Those are the numbers you have to divide the nameplate capacity by in order to get an apples to apples comparison of how much generating capacity you need to build.

The problem with offshore wind is that while it generates about 2x as much power per MW of nameplate capacity vs onshore wind, its cost is typically over 2x more, usually a lot more. So how economically viable it is really depends on the specific installation. If you can put it in a spot where construction and maintenance are cheap, it can be better than an onshore installation. In a bad location and it turns into an expensive boondoggle built only to reap government subsidies, and shut down once the subsidies are exhausted.

RE: Actual versus Nameplate.
By Mint on 7/5/2013 1:43:01 PM , Rating: 4
Nuclear is baseload, so it's not really filling in the holes left by wind. Natural gas is what ramps up and down to match supply with demand.

That's what makes this sentence so rich:
Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven tells Bloomberg, "[David Cameron's administration] needs to give the sector long-term certainty by agreeing to cut carbon completely from our electricity sector."
The f***wits at Greenpeace are too dumb to realize that for every kWh of wind produced, you are mandating 2 kWh be produced by carbon-emitting, fracking-loving natural gas over the lifetime of the wind turbine.

Until we get a miracle in energy storage, wind and solar construction will actually prevent the cutting of carbon completely from the electricity sector.

RE: Actual versus Nameplate.
By Milv949 on 7/17/2013 9:09:26 AM , Rating: 2
It's a myth that wind turbines don't reduce carbon emissions. "From analysing National Grid data of more than 4,000 half-hour periods over the last three months, a strong correlation between windiness and a reduction in gas-fired generation becomes clear. The exchange rate is about one for one: a megawatt hour of wind typically meant the UK grid used one less megawatt hour of gas-derived electricity."

Stop spreading anti-clean energy lies.

RE: Actual versus Nameplate.
By Milv949 on 7/17/2013 9:07:22 AM , Rating: 2
What is the solution to not enough wind turbines? If you guessed "more wind turbines", have a pat on the head.

The wind (and sun and waves and tides) will be free forever. Harvest that free energy and we get ourselves off the fossil fuel hook which will only keep getting more and more expensive as it erodes a liveable climate.

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