The world’s largest offshore wind farm has now reached full capacity after the final turbine was commissioned over the weekend.
With all 175 turbines now exporting power to the national grid, the 630MW first phase of the London Array is expected to produce enough green electricity to power nearly half a million homes a year.
Turbine installation was completed in December 2012 and since then the project has focused on fully commissioning and putting into operation the 3.6MW Siemens turbines by this spring.
"This is the final major milestone of the construction phase and the culmination of more than two years' offshore construction work which began in March 2011 with the installation of the first foundation," says Project Director Richard Rigg.
"It has been a complex operation but I am delighted that the commissioning of the wind farm has now been completed on schedule, despite the worst of the winter weather."
London Array is being built around 20km off the coasts of Kent and Essex on a 245km2 site. Phase One covers an area of 90km2 and includes 175 turbines with a combined capacity of 630MW and a possible second phase could add enough capacity to bring the total to 870MW.
The project is backed by a consortium between DONG Energy, which owns 50 per cent, E.ON, which owns 30 per cent and Masdar, which owns 20 per cent.
Tony Cocker, CEO of E.ON UK, which owns 30 per cent of the project, says: "London Array is a significant achievement in renewable energy. The world's largest operational offshore wind farm will be capable of generating enough energy to power nearly half a million homes and reduce harmful CO2 emissions by over 900,000 tonnes a year.
"It's been a tough time for the team working on site. The recent bad weather and north easterly winds have whipped up the waves preventing access to the site so this milestone is true reward for their hard work."
Following the completion of the construction and commissioning phase, the project has started handing over to the operations and maintenance Team, a process that will be completed in the summer when the last shallow array cable has been buried.
RenewableUK’s chief executive Maria McCaffery says: “Britain has a real achievement to celebrate here: the largest operational offshore wind farm in the world is generating clean electricity for British homes and businesses.
“It’s a monumental feat of green engineering. Other massive projects are also coming to fruition in UK waters, such as Teesside, Gwynt y Mor off the coast of North Wales and Gunfleet Sands off the Essex coast, where the next generation of even more powerful offshore turbines is being tested in the water for the first time anywhere in the world.
"To hold on to the UK’s global lead in offshore wind, it’s vital that we maintain this momentum. We must ensure that the crucial legislation going through Parliament right now, the Energy Bill, sets a rock-solid framework to encourage investment in renewables.
"If MPs get the details of the Bill right, we can unlock billions of pounds of investment for more flagship low-carbon projects like London Array, and create 76,000 jobs in the British wind industry by the dawn of the next decade.
"To secure those jobs, and to safeguard employment for future generations, we’re also urging the Government to articulate a clear vision of the scale of its ambition for the wind industry in the longer term, beyond 2020”.