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World's largest wind farm opens

The UK is determined to get out of the “dunce corner” on renewables, energy secretary Chris Huhne has said as he officially opened the world’s largest offshore wind farm off the UK coast.

The 100-turbine Thanet wind farm off the coast of Kent will produce enough electricity to supply the equivalent of more than 200,000 homes a year, and brings the UK’s total power from onshore and offshore wind to more than 5GW - enough to power all the homes in Scotland.

At a ceremony at sea to mark the launch of the new site, Mr Huhne said offshore wind was a key part of meeting the country’s commitments to boost renewables, and the Government was focused on moving from the “frankly atrocious record” on green energy it had inherited.

Currently the UK sources just 3% of all its energy from renewables, against a target of 15% by 2020, and is 25th in the league table of 27 EU countries on action on green power.

Offshore wind power was part of ensuring secure, cheap energy supplies in the future, as well as providing jobs, Huhne said.

But concerns were raised about the proportion of jobs created by the offshore wind industry going to British workers, and whether incentives such as £60M promised for ports development to support the supply chain would survive the forthcoming Government spending review.

About 30% of the 3,500 jobs generated by the manufacture, construction and installation of the wind farm owned by Swedish company Vattenfall went to UK employees.

Mr Huhne said the ports funding was subject to the comprehensive spending review but said it would be foolish not to encourage in every way possible investment in the supply chain, to ensure as much as possible of the manufacture and skills for offshore wind were based in the UK.

“The opening of the Thanet windfarm is a very positive step forward in the UK’s progress towards securing a low carbon energy supply and meeting renewable targets, but we must continue to drive forward progress,” said ICE director general Tom Foulkes.

“UK’s offshore energy resources, if harnessed, could provide a major proportion of the UK’s electricity needs and put the UK at the forefront of a rapidly growing sector with enormous export potential.

“However, this will require massive development in a relatively narrow timeframe. Government will need to provide clear leadership, ensuring the regulatory framework and fiscal mechanisms are fit for purpose and the supply chain is developed concurrently to make the UK a hub for offshore design and manufacturing.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • Please get some professional engineer to take this minister's place to provide the essential focused knowledge based leadership urgently needed in this critical area of the UK infrastructure works!

    CH's arrogence is unpardonable! What he keeps saying is a disgrace and an insult to UK engineers and more importantly to the mass of suffering taxpayers. We as a profession and the public are not dunces but people who have either been ignored or misled. If we as a profession are in the dunce's corner, then it is solely because we have allowed a massive amount of scarce money resource to be wasted on the already completed wind farms. If so, what about a bit of atonement for our "crimes"? Enough is enough and lets have no more of this smoke and mirror exercise - no more wind farms, please!

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  • This wind farm like all others will only run at about 25% efficiency at best. Unless the sandle brigade accept that when the wind does not blow they do not have any electricity then 100% of all farms need back-up power plants run on gas from Russia. Lovely!!

    The Germans and Dutch are already experiencing problems with integrating their wind production into their grids at considerably less percentage of electricity production than the UK target.

    The quicker we start copying the French and start building nuclear plants the better. Not only is the production reliable but once all the subsidies are taken into account less expensive.

    The human race does need to reduce it's CO2 production but we should remember that if the UK reduced it's production to zero then this would effect a reduction of 2% world wide.

    As was said in last week's letters, wind farms are of no use unless we can store their production until it is actually required. The hydrolysis of water to produce hydrogen would seem to be worthy of investigation.

    We need to get the politics out of CO2 reduction and get some proper sustainable engineering solutions

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