Britain to build world's largest offshore wind farm

The UK government on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for the world's largest offshore wind farm that would combine 300 turbines to generate 1.8 Giga Watts of electricity, enough to meet annual power needs of 1.6 million UK homes.

To be located 89 km off the Yorkshire coast, the 300 turbine Hornsea Project-II will have an installed generating capacity of up to 1.8GW.

Secretary to the UK's Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Greg Clark, handed over the consent letter for setting up the 1.8 Giga Watts wind farm to Denmark's Dong Energy on Tuesday.

Upon completion, the £6bn (€6.94bn) wind farm is expected to create up to 2,540 jobs, including 1,960 construction jobs and 580 operational and maintenance jobs, in the Humber region.

The Hornsea Zone, which also includes Hornsea I, covers an area that is twice the size of Great London. The first phase, which consists of 174 wind turbines, is due to be fully operational in 2020.

The project will house 300 turbines each 623ft tall – bigger than London's Gherkin building – across more than 185 square miles in the North Sea off Grimsby.

Detractors of the project, however, say the Hornsea projects would drive up energy bills by hundreds of millions of pounds required to subsidise the green energy project.

The wind farm was handed a subsidy contract by then energy secretary Ed Davey in 2014 that will see the company being paid four times the market price for every unit of electricity it generates for 15 years, ie, £140 per megawatt hour compared with £35/MWh.

The Hornsea-I project would require £4.2billion in subsidies, an average of about £280million per year – with consumers sharing the high cost with the government.

Whitehall officials insisted that no deal has been struck with Dong over the level of subsidies that will be provided for Phase-II, but analysts say that it could add up to £450million a year to power bills, based on current prices.

It was also feared that the noise from building the massive wind farm would disturb porpoises. But, despite objections from UK charity, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the planning inspectors have approved the site.

The charity said the decision was 'devastating', as the turbines would be directly in the flight path of gannets and kittiwakes that nest in protected wildlife areas – resulting in the 'unnecessary death' of hundreds of birds.

It said that, along with other North Sea wind farms, it poses 'an unacceptable level of threat to these species as well as potential effects for guillemots, razorbills and puffins'.

Whitehall says the project that will deliver up to 1.8GW of electricity to be built by Danish firm Dong Energy, at an investment of up to £6billion, was a post-Brexit vote of confidence, and that the site will power almost two million homes.