Biggest offshore wind farm wins government approval

The world’s biggest offshore wind development has been given the go-ahead off the coast of Yorkshire, with planning permission for 400 wind turbines in a move that the government said was likely to create hundreds of jobs.

Dogger Bank Creyke Beck A and B would be one of the UK's largest power generators, second only to the Drax coal-fired plant in North Yorkshire, and could supply 2.5 per cent of the country’s electricity. The two associated wind farms will be built 80 miles off the Yorkshire coast in waters about 30 metres deep and will each consist of up to 200 turbines.

If fully constructed, the project is expected to generate enough electricity to power almost two million homes, having a total capacity of 2.4GW. The building costs are projected to be between £6bn and £8bn and it is still unclear how it would be funded, but the project will almost certainly have to secure backing under the government’s renewable energy subsidy system.

Ed Davey, the energy secretary, said that it would support the creation of green jobs in Yorkshire and Humberside, and bring millions of pounds’ worth of investment into the UK economy.

“Making the most of Britain’s home grown energy is creating jobs and businesses in the UK, getting the best deal for consumers and reducing our reliance on foreign imports.

“Wind power is vital to this plan, with £14.5 billion invested since 2010 into an industry which supports 35,400 jobs.”

Construction would begin in 2019 and the wind farm should be functional by 2022. The Forewind consortium, owned by four international energy companies RWE, SSE, Statkraft and Statoil, said the project should “create the potential for it to be built at significantly lower costs”.

Although the UK does not manufacture large wind turbines, the government says half of the costs associated with building and operating a wind farm are spent buying services and products from UK businesses.

The company has already spent £60m on initial surveys and planning and the consortium said the size of the Creyke Back project could create create up to 4750 new direct and indirect full-time equivalent jobs and generate more than £1.5bn for the UK economy.

“Achieving consent for what is currently the world’s largest offshore wind project in development is a major achievement for Forewind and will help confirm the UK’s position as the world leader in the industry,” Tarald Gjerde, general manager for Forewind, said.

Figures from RenewableUK show that the UK currently has about 1,200 offshore wind turbines, with a total generating capacity of about 4GW.

The UK’s largest biggest offshore wind site is the London Array, which has 175 wind turbines in the Thames estuary.

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