The London Array, the world’s largest wind farm now being installed in the Thames Estuary, is taking another major step closer to completion. The project has just signed a 100 million euro contract with global cable leader Nexans to supply the high voltage undersea power cables that will transmit power from the array to the U.K. grid.
Once online, the London Array will house up to 341 turbines and generate up to 1,000 megawatts of electricity. That is enough wind power to supply 750,00 homes or about a quarter of Greater London, adding a big chunk of sustainable energy to the U.K. government’s current goal of achieving 15.4% renewable energy by 2015.
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Wind Power in the U.K.
The London Array has been a long time coming. Environmental studies began in 2001, and the licensing process goes back to 2005. The project also hit a speed bump in 2008 when a strategic financial review by one member of the Array consortium, Shell, indicated that the rate of return would be insufficient mainly due to inflated costs. German and Danish companies E.ON and DONG Energy got things back on track by acquiring Shell’s stake in the project.
Nexans, Wind Power, and Solar Power
Nexans will supply a total of four submarine power cables for the London Array, each about 54 kilometers long. The company is an established leader in cable supply for conventional power industries with a history going back to 1897, but it is not shy about foraying into the sustainable energy of the 21st century. Among other projects, Nexans has developed a specially designed cable for use with solar arrays. The London Array contract also follows the successful inauguration of a Nexans undersea cable for another offshore wind power project that came on line this fall, owned by the Norway-based oil company StatoilHydro. Between the two it’s a clear indication that forward-looking fossil fuel industry leaders are determined not to be left behind in the dust as the world transitions to a more sustainable energy infrastructure.
Image: Undersea high voltage cable for wind farms Courtesy of Nexans.