by Isaiah Boone
In a recent article posted on ScienceAlert, David Nield examines the impact of the final investment in a project that will construct the largest wind farm in the world off the shores of the United Kingdom. The project known as Horsea Project One is being led by a danish firm, DONG Energy, and is expected to be completed in 2020. The addition of Horsea Project One is expected to significantly increase the total wind energy production in the UK once it is completed.
The leader of the Horsea Project One, DONG Energy was founded in 2006 and is the sole owner of the project after acquiring the remaining two-thirds of the project from Smart Wind close to a year ago. DONG Energy has approximately 6,500 employees in 10 different countries. In addition, it serves 866,000 electricity customers and 113,000 gas customers and supplies over 6 million Europeans with electricity from offshore wind farms. DONG Energy also owns the rights to Horsea Project Two and Horsea Project Three, which if combined with Horsea Project One could push potential capacity of the wind farm to 3 gigawatts of electricity. [http://www.dongenergy.com/en/about-us] DONG Energy estimated that a third of all UK power could come from wind power by 2030.
There are a number of interesting issues that arise in regards to wind power in the United Kingdom. The article highlights that generally there needs to be some level of government support in order to encourage companies to invest in wind power. The primary reason for this is the technology is uncompetitively expensive without subsidization. Contrary to this rationale, in recent years the government has reduced its subsidies for various companies that are heavily involved in renewable energy such as solar, wind, and biomass energy. Still, the UK has more offshore wind installations than any other country. The downside to offshore wind installations is that they are more expensive to maintain and install than land-based farms are. Nonetheless, the UK government still opts for offshore installations because of the problems with finding suitable locations and obtaining necessary planning permissions for onshore projects. Project Hornsea One was granted a Final Investment Decision Enabling contract by the UK Government in April 2014 and accordingly will be given a fixed tariff for its output for the first 15 years of production.
The wind farm would be located 121 kilometers off the coast of Yorkshire. The turbines themselves would stand over 190 metres tall and would be connected to the mainland by over 956 kilometers of cables to transport the electricity. This 1.2 gigawatts farm will be the first of its kind to exceed 1 gigawatts in potential capacity and is much larger than the London Array Wind Farm, currently the largest wind farm in operation, which produces 630 megawatts. [http://www.sciencealert.com/the-world-s-biggest-wind-farm-will-soon-be-built-off-the-uk-coast]
Dong Energy UK country chairman, Brent Cheshire, stated that, “To have the world’s biggest ever offshore wind farm located off the Yorkshire coast is hugely significant, and highlights the vital role offshore wind will play in the UK’s need for new low-carbon energy.” Cheshire is correct in saying that offshore wind will be closely tied to the need for low-carbon energy. With a growing need for sustainable energy and the stronger wind speeds offshore, the move towards offshore wind farms seems logical. It will be interesting to see how successful this project becomes and if the additional projects (i.e. Project Horsea Two and Project Horsea Three) follow suit.