The Government today gave the greenlight to two offshore wind farms with a combined capacity of one gigawatts (GW) off the coast of Norfolk.
The projects – Centrica
’s 580 megawatt (MW) Race Bank
and Warwick Energy
’s 560 MW Dudgeon
in the Greater Wash
– represent £3 billion of investment and bring the total amount of wind power
operational, under construction or consented to in the UK to 6.6 GW. The UK currently has 1.9 GW of operational capacity.
But a third application for a 540 MW offshore wind farm by Centrica at Docking Shoal, also off the Norfolk Coast, was turned down for environmental reasons.
Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy, said the two new offshore wind farms would bring the UK "considerable amounts of clean energy, but significant investment and jobs too".
Both projects are due for completion by 2015 and together could generate enough electricity to power around 730,000 homes. The Dudgeon project will provide more than 0.5 per cent of the UK’s annual electricity needs and will create hundreds of jobs during the three-year construction phase and up to 100 direct full time jobs thereafter, Warwick Energy said.
"This is a major step forward for the project, the offshore wind industry and for the UK economy," commented Mark Petterson, project director. "We hope to receive the remaining consent, for an onshore substation, soon to allow construction work for this major piece of infrastructure to start next year."
But Centrica warned that the development of Race Bank was dependent on the outcome of the Government’s Renewable Obligation (RO) banding review. The Government has delayed an announcement on the new RO banding amid concerns the subsidies for wind power could be slashed. The Treasury is understood to be be pushing for a 25 per cent cut in subsidies for onshore wind, while the Department of Energy and Climate Change wants to see a 10 per cent cut.
"Achieving Government consent for Race Bank is an important milestone. We will now undertake a thorough appraisal of project costs with a view to making a final investment decision on Race Bank early in 2013," Mark Hanafin, managing director of Centrica Energy, said.
Centrica said it regretted the Government’s decision to turn down the Docking Shoal offshore wind farm, noting that it had awaited consent for three and half years incurring "considerable costs" to the developer. The application was refused on due to its potential impact on seabirds in the area.
"We have also shown that we are mindful of other consequences, such as the impact on bird populations, in deciding that it would not be appropriate to consent all three applications," said Hendry.
Like this content? Please subscribe to our free weekly e-newsletter at the top of the page for more content like this.