If built, the wind farm could generate up to 1,000 megawatts of renewable electricity, enough for more than 750,000 homes - equivalent to the household demand of Kent and East Sussex combined, or a quarter of greater London homes. The wind farm will also avoid emissions of up to 1.9m tonnes of carbon dioxide every year and could make up to 10% of the UK Government’s 2010 renewables targets.
London Array is the first of the Round 2 UK offshore wind farm projects, awarded an option for a lease by the Crown Estate in December 2003, to apply for consents. The applications come after an extensive consultation process as well as comprehensive technical and environmental studies.
The full development, costing up to £1.5bn, will require up to 270 wind turbines to generate 1,000 megawatts and would connect into the National Grid’s transmission system in Kent. The turbines would be located in the outer Thames Estuary, more than 20 kilometres offshore and equidistant from the coasts of Essex and Kent. Due to the distance of the wind farm from the shore, there is expected to be little visual impact from the coastline.
If consents are granted (by national and local government officials), the construction programme envisages London Array being built in up to four phases. The first phase would be commissioned in 2008, and it is hoped that all phases would be complete by 2010/11. The consortium is hoping for consent to be granted in 2006 to achieve the proposed construction programme.
Stephen Tindale, Greenpeace Executive Director said: "The Government's Chief Scientific Advisor Sir David King considers climate change to be the greatest challenge our planet has ever faced. It is crucially important that we clean up the way we generate our energy in response to this threat and that means developing renewables like wind power as fast as possible. The UK is blessed with the best wind resource in Europe. The London Array offshore wind farm, which when complete will be the largest wind farm anywhere in the world, represents a major step forward in harnessing the UK's massive wind resource and will contribute to the UK's efforts to avoid the worst effects of climate change."
Graeme Sweeney, CEO of Shell Renewables said: "I am delighted that London Array is the first of the Round 2 UK offshore wind farms to submit its consent applications, setting a precedent for these larger projects. We appreciate the wide and open consultation with all stakeholders that has provided valuable input to our planning applications and we look forward to continuing this as we work towards obtaining consents. This step is particularly pleasing after our recent announcement to proceed with the 108 megawatts Offshore Wind Park Egmond in the Netherlands.”
Jason Scagell, Director of E.ON UK Renewables, said: “It’s only through building more powerful wind farm sites such as this that we’ll be able to reach the Government’s tough targets for renewable generation. This application is further evidence of our commitment to green generation within the UK. Last year we completed the construction of Scroby Sands, one of the UK’s first commercial-sized offshore wind farm, off the coast of Great Yarmouth and we’re progressing further offshore developments around the coast of the UK.”
“E.ON UK is dedicated to working with the government to reduce carbon emissions and further cementing our position as one of the UK’s leading renewable generators.”
Erik Kjær Sørensen, Director of CORE said “Submitting the consents applications is an important milestone in the development of what will be a truly landmark project. It is an excellent example of European companies working together to make a serious contribution to combating climate change, whilst simultaneously pushing forward the frontiers of technological development.
This project will supply the equivalent of a quarter of London's domestic load and will surely, once and for all, bury the myth that wind energy is insignificant. Furthermore it is merely the first of a number of similar sized wind power schemes that will place the UK market at the forefront of offshore renewable energy development worldwide."