The world’s largest offshore wind farm, the 100 turbine 300 MW Thanet site off the coast of southeast England was officially opened on 23 September at a ceremony attended by the UK’s energy secretary Chris Huhne. Thanet was developed by Swedish energy major Vattenfall and marks a significant development in the renewable energy sector. Pointing out that Thanet’s 300 MW will take UK installed wind power capacity over the 5000 MW mark, Mr Huhne hailed Vattenfall’s impressive engineering achievement and praised its commitment to wind power in the UK.

The £900 million project’s 100x3MW turbines, manufactured by Vestas, started generating electricity in May 2010. Construction started at the end of 2008 after Vattenfall bought the project from hedge fund Christofferson Robb in November of that year. At that time, the project already had all necessary licences and contracts and was a key part of Round 2 of the UK’s offshore wind programme. The construction of the 35 sq km wind farm has taken just over two years. It is expected to operate for at least 25 years.

Thanet lies in sight of Kentish flats, an offshore wind farm also owned by Vattenfall, which has now merged the management of the two operations. Vattenfall sees the UK as one of the main markets for offshore wind power.

The compay fully or partially owns and operates eight off-shore wind farms and is producing 25% of the world’s offshore wind power. It is currently building the Ormonde wind farm in the Irish Sea, which will consist of 30x5MW turbines. The German project DanTysk, with 80 turbines, has also reached advanced status. Negotiations with suppliers for turbines and other components are going on and an investment proposal will be presented to the company’s board this autumn.

The company’s next big project is the development of the East Anglia Array, a gigantic offshore wind farm area in the North Sea off the east coast of England, granted jointly to Vattenfall and ScottishPower Renewables as part of The Crown Estate’s Round 3 offshore wind farm programme. Early investigations suggest that East Anglia has the potential to achieve a capacity of approximately 7200 MW..