East well placed for the future as offshore wind industry matures
- Credit: IAN BURT
Innovators in offshore wind energy must continue work to drive down costs as the sector asserts increasing dominance over the East of England coast.
This is the message from an industry leader, who believes the region is 'at the very epicentre' of national energy generation.
Chief executive of the East of England Energy Group Simon Gray said reducing the costs for offshore wind, particularly in construction, would be key to its development.
'We have been successful in getting costs down dramatically in the past few years,' he said.
'The whole industry is quite confident of getting to the point in the not too distant future where it does not need government subsidies and can get investment on its own.'
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A report by the Crown Estate – published as the world's biggest offshore wind conference takes place in London this week – said there were 1,463 fully operational offshore wind turbines and 29 operational wind farms in the UK at the end of 2016, with another 830 turbines being built or in the pipeline.
East Anglia One and Dudgeon wind farms, off the coasts of Great Yarmouth and Cromer, and Galloper wind farm off the coast of Felixstowe will generate a maximum capacity of 1,452MW once completed – more than a quarter (27%) of the total capacity of the 12 UK wind farms currently under construction.
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Mr Gray said the increasing size of turbines, which could soon generate 10MW each, was a major factor in driving down costs.
'The amount of energy that can be produced is increasing exponentially,' he said. 'This means you need fewer of them for each wind farm as the output is dramatically increased, so you need fewer foundations and less cabling.'
Mr Gray said the East of England – which has four offshore wind farms under construction, two nuclear power stations under discussion at Sizewell and Bradwell and is home to the UK's main gas basin – would 'power the nation' in years to come.
The Crown Estate report also pointed out the 'significant investment' and job creation in operational and maintenance hubs like Lowestoft, which services Greater Gabbard and will be the operational base for East Anglia One, and Great Yarmouth, which services Scroby Sands and will be the base for Dudgeon.