It seems the world has truly embraced wind power, and nowhere more so than Europe – specifically the United Kingdom. Today, the UK opens the Thanet Wind Farm, the largest offshore wind farm in the world with 100 turbines spread over 35 kilometres in the North Sea, 7.5miles off the coast of Foreness Point, Margate. The wind farm will be capable, if winds are high enough, of generating up to 300 megawatts of electricity – enough to power over 200,000 homes or a small city.
The activation of the Thanet wind farm means that the UK is the biggest offshore wind generator in the world, producing more electricity from sea-based turbines than the rest of the globe put together. According to the UK wind industry, the country’s wind farms now have a capacity of 5 gigawatts (GW) or enough power for nearly three million homes.
All EU countries are busy meeting targets of being able to generate 20% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, and with its large coastline and windy seas, the UK is naturally building more wind farms. The government’s ‘dash for wind’ is expected to see the construction of 10,000 new turbines going up at sea and across the country over the next decade.
While the Cape Wind farm generate a certain level of controversy in the US, Europe has actively been building some of the largest wind projects in the world. One project rumored to be the largest wind farm in Europe when completed is the Markbygden Vind AB, being developed by Svevind in northern Sweden. Expected to be finished by 2020, the farm will potentially see 1100 turbines installed, making it the largest in the world.Another major project is the Maranchon Wind Farm, located in central Spain, which consists of conjoined wind farms. The overall combined capacity reaches 208 MW with Iberdrola Renewables owning and operating the farm. Spain has recently had a massive wind power boost, with the Global Wind Energy Council now estimating that wind power supplies now account for 11.5 percent of Spain’s electricity, generated by 16,700 turbines all over the country.
However, not willing to be outdone, the UK is also developing the Whitelee Wind Farm, powered by Scottish Power Renewables, which consists of 140 wind turbines with the capacity to generate 322 MW of electricity. Each wind turbine has the ability to power over 1,000 homes. Truly with the amount of investment going into wind power, the winds of change are blowing for renewable energy.
Images via Vattenfall UK