Hip, hip, array! World's largest wind farm given go-ahead

Posted by jossc — 12 May 2009 at 4:09pm - Comments

Ok, ok, I know there've been some unflattering things said about E.ON on these pages in the recent past, but that's just us trying to helpfully point them away from their dependence on dirty fuels towards the sunlit uplands of clean, green energy sources. And it doesn't mean that we can't praise them when they get something right, as they've done today in announcing the start of work on the long delayed London Array.

E.ON are one part of the consortium behind  the array (together with Dong Energy and Masdar), and have just given the green light for work to begin on the first phase of the £3 billion project. Situated in the Thames estuary this 1,000 MW offshore wind farm will be the world's largest, covering 90 sq miles (232 sq km) between Margate in Kent and Clacton, Essex.

This first phase alone will generate 630 MW - enough to power around 750,000 homes (or a quarter of Greater London homes) and cut 1.9 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year. First electricity from the Array is expected to come on stream in 2012, which is great news. So credit where it's due, take a bow E.ON, Dong and Masdar.

And some credit must go to the government, too. It was the announcement in last month's budget that it would raise support for offshore wind farms under the Renewables Obligations Certificates (ROCs) scheme, which convinced the consortium that the time was right to start work.

Why does it matter so much? Well, cutting-edge projects like the London Array will help generate clean, secure energy. They'll also generate thousands of British jobs, and hopefully protect some which are currently threatened, like the 600 workers at the Vestas Blades wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight.

Here in the UK we have not only the best renewable energy resources in Europe, but also the know-how to harvest it. The London Array should be the start of a major expansion of offshore wind to help power Britain, but the government needs to do more - removing the hurdles that have held up the faster development of the wind industry, streamlining the planning process and improving onshore infrastructure, for example, would be the obvious places to start.

About Joss

Bass player and backing vox in the four piece beat combo that is the UK Greenpeace Web Experience. In my 6 years here I've worked on almost every campaign and been fascinated by them all to varying degrees. Just now I'm working on Peace and Oceans - which means getting rid of our Trident nuclear weapons system and creating large marine reserves so that marine life can get some protection from overfishing.

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