The 659-megawatt Walney Extension offshore wind project became the world’s biggest of its kind when it opened off the northwest English coast last week, boasting individual eight-megawatt turbines up to 195 metres in height and supplying enough electricity to power nearly 600,000 homes.
The 145-square-kilometre project is made up of 87 turbines made by Siemens Gamesa and MHI Vestas, Reuters reports. Turbine blades were manufactured in Hull and the Isle of Wight, and Matthew Wright, managing director of project developer Ørsted UK, noted that “UK sources” will supply about half the lifetime value of the project.
“For the last 10 years, governments of all colours have supported renewable energy and offshore wind in the UK, leading to a thriving industry,” Wright added. The news agency says Ørsted attributed his company’s success to “a combination of strong wind speeds and shallow waters in the North Sea and Irish Sea, as well as continued support from the government.”
Britain holds 36% of the global offshore wind market, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.
Walney Extension was one of the first renewable energy projects to receive a contract for difference (CFD) subsidy from the UK government that guarantees it a power purchase price of £150 (US$195) per megawatt-hour for 15 years. “Since this was awarded, the cost of offshore wind has fallen dramatically, to a low of 57.50 pounds per MWh in the last auction held in 2017,” Reuters notes.
The project is jointly owned by Ørsted, at 50%, and two Danish pension funds at 25% each.