UK government approves world’s largest offshore wind farm

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24 February 2015

LONDON: The UK energy secretary approved a plan to build the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, a 500 km2 complex to be located off the coast of Yorkshire.

According to Forewind, the consortium behind the project, the ‘Dogger Bank Creyke Beck’ will include 400 wind turbines and generate 8TWh of power a year, providing energy to around 1.8 million British homes.

Creyke Beck wind farm was approved last week by the UK’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey. He underscored that since 2010, total investment in the country’s wind sector totalled £14.5 billion (US$22.4 billion), with 1,301 wind turbines currently in action – most of which are offshore – totalling a generating capacity of about 4GW.

The UK is currently leading the wind market in Europe, accounting for 55.9% of the overall installed offshore wind capacity. Ben Ferrari, Director of Corporate Partnerships, The Climate Group commented: “This data indicates that the wind power sector is gaining traction within the wider energy market. This will further spur interest from European investors and businesses. If we look at the role played last year by partnerships and equity funding for renewables, it seems clear that utilities and institutional investors will deepen their involvement in wind energy over the next few years."

But these numbers are particularly significant in the context of the 2020 and 2040 renewable energy targets set by the European Union. The UK is currently one of the biggest countries to be on track to meet the EU goal, which is to have renewables accounting for 20% of the total energy needs by 2020 and 27% by 2030.

Each European country has set different targets, according to their capacities and needs, and these have been submitted to the EU through individual National Renewable Energy Action Plans. The British plan states 15% of the overall energy consumption, including electricity, transport and heating needs, will have to come from renewables by 2020.

Last week the Office for National Statistics released a report about electricity consumption in 2013, showing that the EU target has already been reached in that sector. But if we take into account the energy data of the transportation sector, according to The Guardian, “for the UK to meet its EU goals, electricity generation from renewable sources is likely to have to increase to above 30 per cent by 2020.”

Being on track to meeting the EU targets is a positive sign that ambition can be raised. Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group, commented: “The EU climate target must be seen as a floor which opens the door to increased ambition. With a 27% renewable energy target by 2030, Europe set the bar too low to convince investors to move away from fossil fuels and switch to a low carbon economy. The 27% target for energy efficiency improvements, which is only ‘indicative’, doesn’t send the right signal and won’t convince businesses to make a step change in energy efficiency investment. The review clause by 2020 will be important to revise the ambition upward.” 

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By Denise Puca

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