Powergen Renewables, Shell WindEnergy and CORE Ltd have gained through their consortium London Array Ltd the opportunity to lease an offshore wind farm site in the outer Thames Estuary. The lease comes from the Crown Estate, which controls all such usage of coastal waters. The wind farm could ultimately supply up to a quarter of London’s power.

Shell, CORE and Powergen would each own a third of the London Array project. Further technical and environmental studies will be undertaken during 2004 to establish whether the project is viable. The London Array consortium will also begin an extensive consultation process to hear the views of local people and others with an interest in the project.

The current plan calls for construction in four phases. The first phase would be a 300 MW wind farm commissioned in 2007. Depending on the success of the first phase, three further phases of slightly smaller size would be commissioned in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively. The full development would then generate around 1000 MW from up to 300 turbines, which would make it the world’s largest offshore scheme.

The farm would be located off the coasts of Essex and Kent, around 20 km out to sea where it is expected to be of little visual impact.

David Jones, Executive Vice President of Shell WindEnergy, said: “On its own, London Array would make a material contribution towards the achievement of the UK’s target for increasing the proportion of electricity generated from renewables by 2015.” If built, the wind farm would prevent 1.3 million tonnes/year of greenhouse gas emissions.