It’s been a long time in the making — 12 years to be precise — but the London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, is officially up and running. At a launch event today in Margate, Kent, UK Prime Minister David Cameron called the project “A win for Kent… a win for renewable energy… and most of all, a very big win for Britain.”
“We are making this country incredibly attractive to investment,” Prime Minister Cameron added.
Although the UK is far and above the world leader in offshore wind capacity, with 74% of global market share, London Array is the first major renewable energy project to be inaugurated by Cameron since he took office in 2010.
“Projects like London Array demonstrate the economic opportunity of large-scale renewable energy projects – from the direct investment they attract to the industries they strengthen,” said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Abu Dhabi–based renewable energy company Masdar, one of the companies behind the development of the project, along with DONG Energy and E.ON.
“London Array also exemplifies what can be achieved through smart policies and strong partnerships,” added Dr. Al Jaber.
London Array’s 175 Siemens 3.6 MW turbines have a combined capacity of 630 MW and are expected to produce enough electricity to power over half a million UK homes each year.
“Wind offshore is going primetime,” said Peter Loescher, President and CEO of Siemens, who also spoke at the event.
The UK has set a goal of generating 18 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2020. With several gigawatts in various stages of the development pipeline, that lofty goal seems plausible, especially if the country moves forward on incentivizing the kind of large-scale renewable energy projects that brought London Array to life. And while the project was first proposed in 2000, the actual construction process took less than two years to complete.
It’s amazing how fast things can move once the key political, regulatory, and financial pieces of the puzzle are in place.
Tim Hurst now works with Masdar in Abu Dhabi.