Thanet Offshore Wind Farm - UK is Leading the Race in Offshore Wind Energy
On September 23, 2010, the world's largest offshore wind farm went online. Situated off the southeast coast of England, the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm boasts 100 wind turbines capable of supplying enough electricity for 200,000 homes a year. This wind farm was spearheaded by the previous British govenment and will be operated by the Swedish energy company Vattenfall, after having invested around 880 million pounds in the project.
Just How Big is the Biggest Wind Farm
The Thanet Offshore Wind Farm covers an area of 13.5 square miles - equal to 4,000 football fields. There are 100 turbines - 11 kilometers off the coast and are capable of generating 300 MW (mega-watts) of energy - enough to supply electricity to over 200,000 homes. The nearest turbine to land is about 7.4 miles northeast of Margate, at the part of England that juts out where the English Channel meets the North Sea.
Advantages of Offshore Wind Farms
The most obvious advantage of offshore wind farms is the stronger and steadier wind currents. Something not lacking in England is wind. Britain is so windy it's estimated an offshore turbine in the UK generates 50 percent more power than a turbine in Germany. Also, having the turbines situated offshore, makes them less of an "eye-sore" and gives them more energy generating capacity. Officials at Vattenfall expect a rise in tourism from people eager to see the turbines from a distance.
Thanet May Not be the Largest for Long
Thanet will not remain the world's largest offshore wind farm for long. There are already plans for 300 turbines off the Essex coast and to the north of the Thanet Wind Farm. By late 2013, The London Array Wind Farm, a project being funded by E.ON, DONG Energy, and Masdar, could be the first 1 gigawatt offshore wind farm. When up and running, the London Array will help Britian reach the UK goverment's target of providing 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
Of the 16 offshore wind farms now under construction around Europe, half are in Britian. The 25 largest operational offshore wind farms are located in Britian, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, China, Germany, Finland, Belgium, and Ireland. Denmark was the first country to operate an offshore wind farm in 1991 and the UK has the most proposed wind farms on the drawing board.