lans to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm off Britain’s coast are to go ahead, it was announced today. Comprising of about 90 square miles, it will be built 12 miles off the coasts of Kent and Essex to the east of London in the Thames Estuary aPower giant E.ON said the first phase of the London Array project will

start later this year and it could be generating power in time for the

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2012 Olympics.

The project had been on a knife-edge, but increased support for

renewable energy announced in the recent Budget led to today’s

announcement.

E.ON and its partners Dong Energy and Masdar said they will invest

£2billion in building the first 630 megawatt phase of wind farm in the

Thames Estuary.

Onshore work is now due to start in the summer,

with offshore work due to begin in early 2011. Once complete, the

scheme will be the world’s largest, and the first 1 gigawatt offshore

wind farm.

The project will supply enough power for around 750,000 homes – a

quarter of all those in Greater London – and displace the emission of

1.9 million tonnes of CO2 every year.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said: ‘Cutting-edge

projects like the London Array will help generate clean, secure energy,

and they’ll generate thousands of British jobs.

‘The UK has the

best renewable energy resources in Europe, and the know-how to harvest

it. The London Array should be the start of a major expansion of

offshore wind to help power Britain.

‘The Government now needs to remove the hurdles that have stopped the faster development of the wind industry.’

Friends

of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins was equally enthusiastic.

He said: ‘It’s fantastic news that the UK will be home to the world’s

largest offshore wind farm.

‘London Array will cut UK emissions, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and create hundreds of new green jobs.

‘The UK has the best offshore wind resource in Europe. Ministers

must ensure that more projects like this are developed so that Britain

reaps the huge employment, business and environmental benefits of

clean, green energy.

‘This must include a new super-grid to

ensure we get maximum benefit from offshore energy, and greater efforts

to make sure that turbines are built in Britain – not imported from

abroad.’

The firms behind the project said in a statement: ‘The

partners are satisfied that the project is now financially viable and

are now keen to push ahead with construction and to produce the first

renewable power in 2012.’

E.ON chief executive Dr Wulf

Bernotat said: ‘I’m delighted that work can now get under way on the

world’s largest offshore wind farm.

‘The start of London Array

will mark a key milestone in our roadmap as we continue with our

ambitious strategy to take renewables to an industrial level.

‘With

this pioneering scheme, we see a significant increase in scale for

offshore wind and also for E.ON as we aim to become the world’s largest

offshore wind farm developer.

‘Today’s announcement is proof

that, if all interested parties work together, renewable power can be

taken to its next level and so make a real difference to the fight

against climate change.’

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:

‘The London Array is a flagship project in our drive to cut emissions

by 80 per cent by 2050 and meet future energy needs. The UK is a world

leader in offshore wind farms, creating jobs and prosperity for the

economy.

‘That’s why we have increased our support for this technology as we move towards a low carbon future.’

Energy

and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said: ‘This is another green

light for green energy. It’s a vote of confidence in the support the

Government has put into backing renewable energy.

‘The UK is

already the world’s leading offshore wind power and this multi-billion

pound project will help keep us there, cut our carbon emissions and

contribute to secure energy supplies.’

The wind farm will be

installed on a 90 square mile site and will be built in two phases. The

consortium hopes the first phase of 630MW will be completed and

generating in 2012.

The first phase will consist of 175

turbines. The second phase will add enough capacity to bring the total

to 1,000MW, with up to 341 turbines.

Dong Energy is based in Denmark, Masdar is an Abu Dhabi company while E.ON is German-owned.

Hundreds of jobs are expected to be created in the construction phase of the project.

Source: Mail Online

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