UK opens largest offshore wind farm
Published 24/09/2010 | 05:00
BRITAIN opened the world's largest offshore wind farm off Kent yesterday and now has more offshore wind capacity than the rest of the planet combined.
The UK's total offshore capacity rose to 1,341 megawatts compared with 1,100MW installed in the rest of the world, according to statistics published by RenewableUK, Britain's wind and marine renewables industries association. The new wind farm, built by Swedish utility Vattenfall, produces enough energy to power around 200,000 homes.
Britain has invested heavily in developing an offshore wind industry in a bid to meet its carbon reduction targets. The UK has had to move offshore because cheaper onshore wind facilities, which have been successfully rolled out in countries such as Ireland, faced strong local opposition.
"In the face of the worst recession in living memory, the UK wind energy industry has once again shown its strength and resilience by racing ahead to deliver another gigawatt of installed capacity in less than 12 months," said RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery.
Renewable energy now provides around 9pc of Britain's electricity consumption, which is roughly similar to Ireland although most wind energy here is produced by wind farms located on dry land.
The British government's 2020 target is to have a share of 15pc of green energy sources in final energy demand while Ireland's target is 16pc. Britain expects to build another giant wind farm in the Irish Sea over the next decade at a cost of £50bn -- a move that experts say has the potential to create thousands of jobs in Ireland.
In Dublin yesterday, Irish geothermal project developer GT Energy submitted a planning application for what it says will be the country's first power plant that will use underground heat to produce electricity.
The company lodged the request with South Dublin County Council and expects a decision within three months, GT managing director Padraig Hanly said. GT is "very confident" it will be approved, he said. ESB International will assist in the design of the plant and with grid connections
"Stakeholder support to date has been strong and geothermal energy is already included in the South Dublin County Council draft development plan," Mr Hanly added.
GT plans to start building in Newcastle early next year and is scheduled to start producing electricity in 2012.
The €300m plant will generate as much as 4MW of electricity that is sufficient to power some 8,000 three-bedroom homes, the company said.