Wind power is one of the abundant renewable energy sources available for harnessing just like solar power. It is absolutely free but requires various installations to tap into this renewable energy. Locations such as hilltops have been identified as the best places to tap wind power as currents move at high speed in such areas. Offshore estuaries also offer another ideal spot for erecting wind turbines. London Array offshore wind farm has become one of the most popular in the world, not only because it is the largest, but also because it has the largest megawatt capacity in the whole of Europe. Tourists can effortlessly see it from the shores and is located some 12 miles (20 kilometers) off Kent Coast on the North Foreland (visit official site).
London Array construction project
The 175 turbine offshore wind farm was inaugurated by UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron on July 4th 2014 following completion of phase one of the construction project. The construction had begun three years earlier in March 2011 and was completed in 2013. Although a second construction phase was expected, the planning consent was refused due to the projected impact it could have on sea birds. The project was spearheaded by a consortium of three top renewable energy companies namely DONG Energy, E.ON and Masdar. La Caisse de-dépôt-et-placement-du-Québec, a global investor in Canada and North America, also provided institutional funding for the project.
London Array is both a mega power plant and an attraction that most tourists visiting UK ought to see. It is located 12 miles from the coast of Kent in between Long-Sand and Kentish-Knock, in the area between Margate and Clacton in Kent and Essex respectively. The site is safely away from all shipping lanes. The first phase involved erecting 175 Siemens SWT-3.6 Wind Power turbines as well as two offshore substations connected to an onshore substation located at Cleve Hill. The wind farm is modestly named after the London city because the power goes directly into the London Grid. The 175 turbines are connected to each other by 33kV array cables that run some 210 kilometers (130 miles) while the substations are connected by four 150kV sub-sea export cables running 220 kilometers (140 miles). The London Array offshore wind farm is expected to reduce annual carbon dioxide emission by 900,000 tons which is equal to the total emission released by 300,000 cars every year.
London Array offshore wind farm is one of a kind and the largest offshore farm in the whole world. It is very conspicuous for all tourists to see and stretches all across the outer Thames Estuary. It is also the largest wind farm in Europe in terms of megawatt capacity, providing 630 megawatts into the London Grid. Close to London Array is a much smaller wind farm called Thanet located to its south. The power produced by the 175 turbines is enough to supply the stations’ energy needs resulting in a self-sufficient system that requires no external powering.
London Array Ltd.
The offshore wind farm is a project of London Array Ltd, which is a consortium of the three aforementioned companies. The cooperation was established following environmental studies publications that identified Thames Estuary area as one of the three potential locations for wind farm erection in 2001. After the reports of the strategic frameworks involved were released, Crown Estate awarded London Array Ltd a 50 year lease to undertake the project. Originally in 2003, the cooperation consisted of E.ON, CORE Energy and Shell WindEnergy. They developed a planning application in 2005 and it was later approved in 2007. However, Shell WindEnergy withdrew from the project in 2008 and their shares were bought by E.ON and DONG Energy. In the same year, E.ON allowed Abu Dhabi’s Masdar to purchase 40% of its stake on a joint venture giving Masdar a 20% stake in the project. These remained the three companies that owned the London Array offshore wind farm project. The first phase was completed on a £1.8 billion budget in 2013. A second phase was expected to begin in 2014 but its pursuit was sealed and canceled in 2014 following concerns raised by RSPB (royal-society-for-the-protection-of-birds) on the potential harm a second wind farm would have on seabirds. E.ON is the only local energy provider that holds shares in the London Array project and thus is more inclined to educate their customers (and potential customers) about this sustainable energy project. If you are an E.ON customer or would like to know more about their renewable energy endeavors, you can contact them by clicking here.
Even without phase 2, London Array offshore wind farm has taken its place as the largest offshore wind farm on the planet (more info) and the plant also produces a lot of power. It is also a sight to behold from the shores. Hopefully, renewable energy companies from other states can emulate the project and construct environmentally friendly plants that will both reduce CO2 emission and tap into the natural sources of energy available in our planet.