“What worries me is the government seems to be obsessed with the option of wind farms and neglects other sources of renewable energy, which in many ways could be more important,” Professor Ian Fells of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne told the BBC.
23 September 2010 – The 300 MW Thanet Offshore wind farm, off England’s south east coast, was officially opened today, and pushes the UK’s installed wind capacity past 5 GW.
The farm’s 100 turbines are expected to generate enough electricity for more than 200,000 British households.
Thanet is described by Vattenfall, its developer, as the world’s largest operating offshore wind farm, raising the UK’s offshore generating capacity by a third.
Construction has taken slightly more than two years. Each turbine is up to 115 metres tall and the wind farm covers 35 square km. The facility is expected to operate for at least 25 years.
The UK’s energy and environment minister Chris Huhne welcomed the inauguration and said his government is committed to playing its part in bringing forward “the large sums of investment we want to see in low-carbon energy in the UK”.
He added: “We are in a unique position to become a world leader in this industry. We are an island nation and I firmly believe we should be harnessing our wind, wave and tidal resources to the maximum.”
On top of its installed capacity of 5 GW, the UK has nearly 18 GW either consented, in construction or in the planning system, according to the trade body RenewableUK.
UK wind power received another recent boost with the commissioning of new capacity at Scotland’s Crystal Rig onshore wind farm on 8 September, bringing it up from 138 MW to 200 MW.
In an accelerating expansion of capacity, the sector has gained its fifth gigawatt in less than 12 months.
Yet the UK’s development of renewable energy was described as “dismal” by Craig Bennett, the campaigns and policy director for Friends of the Earth. The intermittency of wind power has also raised concern among some energy experts.
Vattenfall has announced a target of doubling its wind power electricity generation between 2009 and 2011. The Swedish energy giant plans to construct nine wind farms in six countries to supply electricity equivalent to the demand of 800,000 households.
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