The UK government has seen progress in its £100 billion plans to ensure that renewable power fulfils a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs. The names of the companies awarded the rights to construct Round Three offshore wind farm projects off the south east coast of England have been announced. A site off the coast of Hastings will be developed by Eon climate and Renewables UK, and another site west of the Isle of Wight will be developed by Eneco New Energy. The sites will have a potential energy output of 0.6 GW and 0.9 GW respectively.
Other sites around the UK include the Bristol Channel, the Irish Sea, the Moray Firth and the Firth of Forth. Eon was awarded exclusive rights to develop an offshore wind farm on a large scale off the coast of Sussex.
The goal of delivering 29 GW of offshore wind capacity within the next decade is a highly challenging one. The turbines to be installed for the Round Three projects will necessarily be larger and heavier than any previously deployed in UK waters. The sites are situated up to 150 km offshore in waters up to 60 m deep, and construction and installation is set to begin in 2015. Other aspects to be considered are effective configuration of the turbines (when positioned behind others, turbines can lose a significant proportion of their power), establishing foundation designs (half the installation cost can be attributed to foundations) improving worker access and laying higher voltage subsea transmission cables.
There is however, confidence throughout the industry that the technical challenges can realistically be surmounted.
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