Swedish energy giant Vattenfall today cut the ribbon on the world's largest offshore wind farm, situated off the Kent coast, and celebrated by revealing that it is pushing ahead with plans for an even larger offshore wind development.
Energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne joined Vattenfall executives in Ramsgate to cut the ribbon on the 300MW Thanet wind farm, which will power about 200,000 homes and take the UK's total wind energy capacity to 5.1 gigawatts (GW), cementing its position as the leader in offshore wind energy.
According to trade body RenewableUK, the UK now has more offshore wind capacity than the rest of the world put together. While the global total excluding the UK is estimated at 1,100MW, the UK now has 1,341MW.
Vattenfall has invested about £880m in the Thanet farm and plans to invest a further 20bn Swedish Kroner (£1.85bn) in wind power in the next five years.
"We have prioritised this area for the coming five years, and the UK government is very positive towards this kind of energy," a spokesman told BusinessGreen.com.
He added that shallow waters in the North Sea had resulted in favourable conditions for installing Thanet's 100 Vestas V90 turbines.
"There are several reasons why it was a smooth process," he said. "It's not so deep, just 15 to 20 metres, and also we were able to work throughout the winter."
The news came as Vattenfall confirmed staff are busy preparing planning applications for the first 1,200MW phase of the East Anglia offshore wind farm zone, which the company is working on alongside ScottishPower Renewables as part of the UK's Round 3 offshore wind development programme.
The two companies said they plan to submit cabling options to the Infrastructure Planning Commission next month, with a final consent application expected to go to the IPC in late 2012.
The first 1,200MW wind farm, known as East Anglia ONE Offshore Windfarm, will consist of up to 420 turbines located 43km off the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk. The partners have also applied to connect the wind farm to an onshore substation at Bramford.
Vattenfall is also in the process of building the 150MW Ormonde offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea, which is expected to be completed next year.
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