While not everyone is keen on wind farms, many see the expansion of this particular sector of the UK’s renewable energy industry as one of the most obvious ways to achieve far greater sustainability in power generation.
So in this respect, the recent announcement that the government has given approval to RWE Npower Renewables for the construction here of what will be the world’s largest wind farm, will come as good news.
Should all go to plan, when built the Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm will be capable of generating 1,200MW from its 288 turbines. Sitting some 20 miles off the Lincolnshire coast, with the tips of the turbine blades reaching potentially 220 metres into the air, Triton Knoll will be a spectacular demonstration of the UK’s increasing commitment to wind energy.
Britain is already home to the world’s current largest wind farm, the London Array, whose 175 turbines are sited in the Thames Estuary. But not even a proposed second phase expansion plan, which will take output up to 860MW from the 630MW generated now, will stop the London Array from being knocked into second place, if the Triton Knoll project goes ahead as anticipated.
To handle all the power generated offshore, a major substation, the size of some 30 football pitches, will also need to be built, with the output from the turbines being delivered to it along undersea and underground cables.
Construction of Triton Knoll is scheduled to begin in 2017 and indicates an increasing emphasis on wind power – the most advanced renewable technology – as a means of helping the government meet its commitment to obtaining 20% of all UK electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. By then the government also hopes that the country as a whole will be producing some 31GW from both onshore and offshore wind farm arrays.
With the recent confirmation by Swedish energy firm Vattenfall that they will be investing £400 million in a 76-turbine wind farm in South Wales, it seems that we may finally be catching up with our international neighbours.
That’s confirmed by figures released earlier this year by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) which show that the UK currently produces some 8.4GW of wind energy. This puts Britain ahead of both Italy and France, countries that just two years ago were producing more.
After what might have been perceived as a slow start in the race to a more sustainable future based on renewable energy, Britain is fast becoming a major player as it rises ever higher in Europe’s league table for green energy produced through wind power.
However, for proponents of wind power there’s no room for complacency, since this still puts us significantly behind Spain’s 22.8GW, let alone the 31.3GW generated by Germany.
In the meantime, aside from adding substantially to the amount of green energy that the UK is now producing, Triton Knoll will also be significant economically, with the £3.6bn investment involved leading to the creation of around 1,110 jobs across the country.
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