Top 10 Offshore Wind Farms in the World
This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Energy Digital.
Wind farms are a major undertaking that use up a lot of space. Sometimes, offshore wind is the solution.
In this article, Energy Digital looks at the top 10 offshore wind farms by sheer generating capacity.
10. Lincs - U.K., 270 MW
Located off the east coast of England, the Lincs Wind Farm is a £1 billion wind farm owned by Centrica, DONG Energy, and Siemens. The project began in 2004, though was only completed in 2013. A notable inclusion in the project is the extensive underground cable system that runs electricity back to land. This comprised 25 percent of the project’s cost and will outlast the 40 year lifespan of the project itself.
9. Meerwind Süd/Ost - Germany, 288 MW
The Meerwind wind farms are two separate wind farms (south and east) located in the German Bright of the North Sea. The farms only opened in September of last year and are owned by WindMW. The location of the project is particularly notable for its location, which boats a stellar combination of strong winds a convenient water depth. The farm also uses the nearby island of Helgoland as its maintenance base.
8. Thanet - U.K., 300 MW
The Thanet wind farm is off the southeastern cost of Kent in the U.K. When it was completed in 2010, it was set to be the largest operational wind farm in the world. Judging as how it’s now number eight on the list, that is no longer the case. Still, the Thanet project uses state-of-the-art Vestas turbines and is owned by Vattenfall.
7. Sheringham Shoal - U.K., 317 MW
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the U.K. is a major world leader in offshore wind energy and Sheringham Shoal is one of the country’s most iconic projects. The turbines are huge—so big, a double-decker bus could drive through one. Ownership of the project is split 50-50 between Statoil and Statkraft. The estimated actual output of the project is around 125 MW, which is sufficient to power approximately 220,000 average UK homes, more than twice the equivalent electricity required to supply the whole of the North Norfolk coast.
6. Thorntonbank - Belgium, 325 MW
Stationed off the north coast of Belgium, this farm recently reached its maximum planned capacity of 325 MW. The project was completed in three phases, with the most recently being finished in September of 2013. It currently has 54 operational units and cost an estimated £1.3 billion to complete. It was designed to have a minimum environmental impact to both sea life and shipping routes.
5. Walney - U.K., 367 MW
Located in the Irish Sea, the Walney Wind Farm is in a little shallower waters than some of the others on this list in only 19-23m waters. The project is a partnership between DONG Energy and Scottish and Southern Energy. DONG was awarded a 50-year lease for the project and completed the construction in two phases. The wind warm saw a small crisis earlier this year when a dive vessel crashed into one of the turbines and spilled a small amount of oil into a sea.
4. BARD Offshore 1 - Germany, 400 MW
The BARD Offshore 1 wind farm is also relatively new, as it was only completed in September of 2013. Owned by Enovos, the farm sits off the north coast of Germany. The project is noteworthy for its use of the Wind Lift 1 barge during its construction, which placed the massive, 470 ton, 21 meter foundations into the seabed.
3. Anholt - Denmark, 400 MW
The largest offshore wind farm in Denmark, Anholt was also only completed in September of 2013. A project of DONG Energy, the wind farm cost roughly 10 billion Danish kroner to build. This project is unique in its placement of the Siemens turbines. Usually, turbines are placed in a grid pattern of lines and rows, though that’s not the case with Anholt. The turbines placed in an unusual pattern, governed by two principles: put most of them along the edges, and put most in undisturbed airflow from the main direction, which is West-southwest—increasing production by 1.5%, a lifetime value of more than 100m Danish kroner.
2. Greater Gabbard - U.K., 504 MW
The Greater Gabbard wind farm started out as a project between Airtricity and Fluor, though through mergers, acquisitions and other moves, it is currently owned by Scottish and Southern Energy. It was finished in 2012, though there is ongoing work on the underwater cables for the project. The project will also undergo expansion, adding 140 turbines by 2017.
1. London Array - U.K., 630
The London Array is the king of the offshore wind farm. The project has multiple owners and has seen a huge investment of £1.8 billion. Located near the southwest coast of England, the project is a sight to behold. The array is intended to reduce annual CO2 emissions by roughly 900,000 tons—equal to the emissions of 300,000 passenger cars.
UK must stop blundering into high carbon choices warns CCC
The UK Government must end a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices, according to the Climate Change Committee as it released 200 policy recommendations in a progress to Parliament update.
While the rigour of the Climate Change Act helped bring COP26 to the UK, it is not enough for Ministers to point to the Glasgow summit and hope that this will carry the day with the public, the Committee warns. Leadership is required, detail on the steps the UK will take in the coming years, clarity on tax changes and public spending commitments, as well as active engagement with people and businesses across the country.
"It it is hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the last 12 months. There are gaps and ambiguities. Climate resilience remains a second-order issue, if it is considered at all. We continue to blunder into high-carbon choices. Our Planning system and other fundamental structures have not been recast to meet our legal and international climate commitments," the update states. "Our message to Government is simple: act quickly – be bold and decisive."
The UK’s record to date is strong in parts, but it has fallen behind on adapting to the changing climate and not yet provided a coherent plan to reduce emissions in the critical decade ahead, according to the Committee.
- Statutory framework for climate The UK has a strong climate framework under the Climate Change Act (2008), with legally-binding emissions targets, a process to integrate climate risks into policy, and a central role for independent evidence-based advice and monitoring. This model has inspired similarclimate legislation across the world.
- Emissions targets The UK has adopted ambitious territorial emissions targets aligned to the Paris Agreement: the Sixth Carbon Budget requires an emissions reduction of 63% from 2019 to 2035, on the way to Net Zero by 2050. These are comprehensive targets covering all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including international aviation and shipping.
- Emissions reduction The UK has a leading record in reducing its own emissions: down by 40% from 1990 to 2019, the largest reduction in the G20, while growing the economy (GDP increased by 78% from 1990 to 2019). The rate of reductions since 2012 (of around 20 MtCO2e annually) is comparable to that needed in the future.
- Climate Risk and Adaptation The UK has undertaken three comprehensive assessments of the climate risks it faces, and the Government has published plans for adapting to those risks. There have been some actions in response, notably in tackling flooding and water scarcity, but overall progress in planning and delivering adaptation is not keeping up with increasing risk. The UK is less prepared for the changing climate now than it was when the previous risk assessment was published five years ago.
- Climate finance The UK has been a strong contributor to international climate finance, having recently doubled its commitment to £11.6 billion in aggregate over 2021/22 to 2025/26. This spend is split between support for cutting emissions and support for adaptation, which is important given significant underfunding of adaptation globally. However, recent cuts to the UK’s overseas aid are undermining these commitments.
In a separate comment, it said the Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan was an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies.
Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”
Priority recommendations for 2021 include setting out capacity and usage requirements for Energy from Waste consistent with plans to improve recycling and waste prevention, and issue guidance to align local authority waste contracts and planning policy to these targets; develop (with DIT) the option of applying either border carbon tariffs or minimum standards to imports of selected embedded-emission-intense industrial and agricultural products and fuels; and implement a public engagement programme about national adaptation objectives, acceptable levels of risk, desired resilience standards, how to address inequalities, and responsibilities across society.
Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said the report is another reminder that if the UK is to meet its ambitious climate targets there is an urgent need to scale up bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
"As the world’s leading generator and supplier of sustainable bioenergy there is no better place to deliver BECCS at scale than at Drax in the UK. We are ready to invest in and deliver this world-leading green technology, which would support clean growth in the north of England, create tens of thousands of jobs and put the UK at the forefront of combatting climate change."
Drax Group is kickstarting the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at its iconic Cruachan facility in Scotland. The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW (click here).
Lockdown measures led to a record decrease in UK emissions in 2020 of 13% from the previous year. The largest falls were in aviation (-60%), shipping (-24%) and surface transport (-18%). While some of this change could persist (e.g. business travellers accounted for 15-25% of UK air passengers before the pandemic), much is already rebounding with HGV and van travel back to pre-pandemic levels, while car use, which at one point was down by two-thirds, only 20% below pre-pandemic levels.