The British Energy Minister, Greg Barker, opened the Gunfleet Sands III offshore wind farm last Thursday, the latest extension on the Gunfleet Sands offshore wind farm, and the first demonstration in UK waters of the next generation of offshore wind turbines.
Located 7 kilometres off Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, Gunfleet Sands was a 172 MW offshore wind farm, home to 48 wind turbines installed by DONG Energy and constructed by Siemens Wind Power.
However, the two new turbines to be installed — again made by Siemens and installed by DONG — are specifically designed to be used at sea, and are billed as having the potential to “significantly cut the cost of producing renewable energy from offshore wind.”
This may sound strange, but the reality is that a large amount of offshore turbines currently installed around the UK coastline are actually variations of onshore turbines, repurposed out to sea. Given this, the new purpose-built offshore wind turbines have every opportunity to build on their predecessors; to be more cost effective as well as being more efficient.
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“The Coalition [Government] is driving huge new investment to deliver both affordable bills and cleaner energy for consumers,” said Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker. “This includes an important role for offshore wind.”
“Dong Energy’s Gunfleet Sands Offshore Wind Farm is an excellent and innovative example. It’s helping the country take another step towards a clean, secure energy future while helping to support local jobs.”
Writing on the UK Government’s website, the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) are naturally proud of their accomplishments.
The offshore wind industry now provides clean energy to 2.3 million homes each year in the UK. Since 2010 DECC has recorded private sector announcements that could see over £29 billion of investment in renewables in the UK. This has the potential to support around 30,000 jobs across the country.
DONG Energy has little information regarding the latest addition to Gunfleet Sands, though they do point to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that was conducted in lieu of the redeveloping necessary for Gunfleet Sands III, which thankfully provides a bit more information on the planned development.
The Non-Technical Summary (NTS) of the Environmental Statement (ES) notes that the entire Gunfleet Sands wind farm is located “immediately adjacent to a sandbank known as Gunfleet Sands.” Gunfleet Sands III will be “located just off the southern flank of the sandbank,” immediately south-east to the existing Gunfleet Sands I and II farms.
“The inauguration of this demonstration project marks an important milestone for DONG Energy in the UK,” said Benj Sykes, DONG Energy Wind Power’s UK Country Manager. “We are the market leader for a reason; we are using the latest technology to push the boundaries of the industry forward and we continue to remain committed to playing a central role in ensuring the offshore wind industry in this country achieves its full potential.”