World’s biggest wind turbines go online near Liverpool
17th May 2017 | Commercial Energy
The planet’s biggest and most powerful wind turbines have begun generating electricity off the Liverpool coast. This cements Britain’s reputation as a world leader in the technology.
Danish company Dong Energy has just finished installing 32 turbines in Liverpool Bay. Theyare taller than the Gherkin skyscraper, with blades longer than nine London buses. Dong Energy, the windfarm’s developer believes these machines herald the future for offshore wind power: bigger, better and, most importantly, cheaper.
Each of the 195m tall turbines in the Burbo Bank extension has more than twice the power capacity of those in the neighbouring Burbo Bank windfarm. This was completed a decade ago. “That shows you something about the scale-up of the industry, the scale-up of the technology,” said Benjamin Sykes, the country manager for Dong Energy UK.
The project is the first time the 8MW turbines have been commercially used anywhere in the world. Sykes hailed this as a “very important milestone” for the sector.
Subsidies, friendly regulation and a maritime past have helped the UK install more offshore wind power than any other country in the world. Collectively they now have a capacity of 5.3GW. This generates enough electricity to power 4.3m homes. Eight further projects already under construction will add more than half that capacity again.
But ministers have made it clear that the industry must keep cutting costs if the technology is to continue earning taxpayer support. This is the only large renewable energy source backed by the Conservatives.
A recent study showed the costs of offshore wind has fallen a third since 2012. A key test will be the results of a government auction this summer for £290m of renewable energy subsidies. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it comes in below Hinckley,” said Sykes of the prices offshore windfarms might reach. This is compared to £92.50 per megawatt that France’s EDF has been guaranteed for electricity generated by the nuclear power station it is building in Somerset.
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