World's Largest Offshore Windfarm Given Green Light To Be Built Off Britain's Coast

Offshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy. Teun van den Dries/Shutterstock

Josh Davis 17 Aug 2016, 13:51

The British government has just given the green light for the second phase of a windfarm scheme off the eastern coast, which will make it the world’s biggest offshore windfarm. The Hornsea Project Two will see 300 turbines built over more than 480 square kilometers (185 square miles) in the North Sea, and is expected to provide enough power for 1.6 million homes.

“Britain is a global leader in offshore wind,” said the business and energy secretary Greg Clark. “The UK’s offshore wind industry has grown at an extraordinary rate over the last few years, and is a fundamental part of our plans to build a clean, affordable, secure energy system.” The project has been given the go ahead after an assessment has alleviated concerns raised about what impact noise pollution generated during construction might have on porpoises in the region, as well as how the windfarm may affect sea birds.

“Offshore wind is already on course to meet 10% of the UK's electricity demand by 2020,” says Huub den Rooijen, director of energy, minerals, and infrastructure at the crown estate. “Major developments of Hornsea Project Two's scale will pave the way for its continued growth alongside driving down costs, creating high-value jobs, and supporting the UK's transition to a low carbon energy supply.”

While it might be all systems go for the windfarm, the opposite is true of another controversial low-carbon energy project that has hit a stumbling block, the £18 billion nuclear power plant, Hinkley Point C. Despite the previous UK government's cabinet setting it all up and securing all the right investments from the French energy company EDF and the Chinese government, the new Prime Minister Theresa May has put a hold on the project, delaying it indefinitely as they review the security concerns.

Hinkley Point C has been met with much controversy over the last few years of planning, ranging from complaints about the cost of the project, to the timescale as to when it will become operational. The crown estate, which is still legally owned by the Queen, has pointed out that while offshore wind is expected to be providing 10 percent of the country’s energy needs by 2020, if Hinkley Point C goes ahead it is only expected to be powering 7 percent by the mid-2020s, arguing that the development of cheaper and better technologies are driving the wind industry to become cheaper and more competitive.

Either way, while the building of the massive offshore windfarm is undoubtedly a good thing, it is going to require much more investment in a whole spectrum of energy sources, that could include nuclear, for the UK to truly transition into a low-carbon economy.

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