The UK government has signalled its commitment to developing the UK’s renewable energy resources by granting consent for the construction of a 750 MW offshore wind farm.
The Gwynt y Môr project is one of the largest offshore wind power projects in the world and will be developed 13 km off the coast of North Wales by npower renewables, the UK arm of renewable energy firm RWE Innogy. It is a key element of the UK’s renewable energy strategy and also of RWE’s ambitions in the renewable energy market.
Gwynt y Môr will comprise an array of offshore wind turbines each with an installed capacity of 3-5 MW and standing in water depths of between 12 and 34 m. The turbines’ hub height will be up to 100 m and they will have a rotor diameter of around 160 m.
Offshore construction work will begin in 2011 with final commissioning in 2014, according to npower.
“This is an important step towards realising this ambitious project,” said Paul Cowling, Managing Director of npower renewables. “The decision underlines the government’s commitment to massively expanding renewable energy generation in the UK to help tackle climate change and improve security of energy supply.”
The approval of Gwynt y Môr brings the total capacity of offshore wind projects that have gained planning permission in the UK to 4.5 GW and solidifies the country’s position as a leader in offshore wind energy, according to the British Wind Energy Association. Other key projects in development include London Array (1000 MW) and Greater Gabbard (500 MW).
The project will also bolster RWE’s position in the UK and European renewable energy market. The company is intending to invest €1 billion/year for the next four years in the renewables market, and has made the UK offshore wind sector a key target.
In addition to developing Gwynt y Môr, npower renewables already operates the 60 MW North Hoyle offshore wind farm and is developing the 90 MW Rhyl Flats project, both off the North Wales coast. It recently purchased a 50 per cent stake in the Greater Gabbard project, located 25 km off the coast of eastern England.
Greater Gabbard will cost between £1.3 bn and £1.8 bn to construct, excluding the connection to the electricity grid, and will be equipped with 140 Siemens wind turbines. Its load factor will be 40 per cent, according to Scottish and Southern Energy, npower’s partner in the project.