Britain’s renewable energy industry is getting a huge boost, as the government just approved a second phase of the Hornsea offshore wind farm to add 1,800 megawatts of wind power capacity. The plans for Hornsea Project Two, which have been steadily gaining support for the past several years, won the greenlight this week from UK ministers, priming the country to house two of the world’s largest offshore wind farms. If the wind farm is built to full capacity, it is expected to generate enough clean energy to power 1.8 million homes across the UK.
Approval for the Hornsea project marks a significant milestone in UK regulatory history, on the heels of a decision to delay plans for a new Hinckley nuclear power plant. UK leaders have expressed their confidence in the future of clean energy, and backed up the sentiment with $950 million (£730 million) in funds earmarked for renewable energy projects. The Hornsea project will tap into those funds, bringing the nation a giant leap closer to its goal of supplying 10 percent of the UK’s total electricity from wind power by 2020.
DONG Energy, Denmark’s state-backed utility, is behind the ambitious offshore wind farm project. Plans for Hornsea Project Two include a site 55 miles off the coast of Grimsby, and the wind farm will be comprised of as many as 300 turbines. While the total cost of the Hornsea project hovers around $7.8 billion (£6 billion), taxpayers reportedly won’t shell out any more than the $950 million already earmarked. Compared to the nuclear power plant project, the wind farm is a steal. The Hinckley power plant could cost upwards of $23 billion (£18 billion) to build, with a total cost to taxpayers as high as $48 billion (£37 billion), given the higher cost of nuclear power generation.
Advocates for renewable energy have illustrated the case for Hornsea and other offshore wind farms like it by leaning on these figures. For the cost of one Hinckley nuclear power plant (which would supply around seven percent of the nation’s electricity), the UK could install six Hornsea-scale wind farms and produce scores more energy. That fact alone may be enough to convince government leaders to continue investing in renewable energy, while putting more expensive and destructive forms of energy generation on the back burner.