On June 17th, the U.K.’s Department for Energy & Climate Change, responsible for getting the U.K. to meet its goal of obtaining at least 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, gave development consent to ScottishPower Renewables and Swedish utility Vattenfall to begin.
The plan, for the East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm, is to build up to 240 offshore wind turbines. Toghether, this will together generate 1,200 megawatts of power, making the project larger than the 630 megawatt London Array offshore wind farm, which is currently the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
The companies estimate that the farm will have the potential to power 820,000 households. According to the DECC, the wind farm is projected to create nearly 2,900 jobs and to bring £520 million ($873 million) into the U.K.’s economy.
“East Anglia and the rest of the UK have a lot to gain from this development. The project has the potential to inject millions of pounds into the local and national economies, and support thousands of green jobs,” said Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey.
The financial benefits of the project are already being felt. ScottishPower claim that the planning process alone saw more than £15 million of contracts awarded to local companies working on the project, in addition to a £17 million contract given to the Wood Group of Aberdeen for the construction and installation of weather monitoring masts.
“The UK is a world leader in offshore wind and if it is to maintain that position it must continue reducing costs if the sector is to have a long term future.” said Gunnar Groebler, head of Vattenfall’s Continental/UK renewables division.
“The investment in competitive UK and regional supply chains is essential to cost reduction in the sector but that investment will only be made if there is a pipeline of projects. Therefore the consent of a scheme like East Anglia One – which should be warmly welcomed by everyone – will boost business confidence and help secure more affordable, more reliable and greener power in the UK electricity mix.”
Maria McCaffery, chief executive at RenewableUK, told BusinessGreen that the project will be a “confidence boost” for U.K. offshore wind initiatives.
“Today’s news marks the start of what is set to be one of the world’s major green energy infrastructure developments,” she said. “East Anglia One is the first of six projects within the same zone with a combined capacity of up to 7.2GW [7,200 megawatts], which is enough to power more than 4.6 million British homes.”
DECC said that construction work is expected to start in 2017.
The EU has long been a leader in offshore wind development, and in 2013, most the EU’s new offshore wind was installed in the U.K. The U.S. doesn’t currently have any offshore wind farms, but 742,000 acres, positioned 12 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, have opened up to offshore wind leases.