UK Energy Policy Succumbs to Winds of Change
BLYTH, Northumberland, United Kingdom, December 8, 2000 (ENS) - Stormy weather is not all bad news in the UK now the country has opened the world's largest offshore wind project.
The UK is one of the windiest countries in Europe and potentially has enough offshore wind to supply three times the country's current electricity requirements.
The £4 million (US$5.8 million) project one kilometer off Blyth Harbor is not only the largest ever erected offshore but the first to be built in such a demanding position, subject to the full forces of the North Sea.
The project was developed by Blyth Offshore Wind Limited, a consortium of Powergen Renewables, Shell, Nuon and AMEC Border Wind. Work started in July, with Danish wind energy company Vestas, AMEC Marine, Seacore and Global Marine Systems as the main contractors.
The turbines use an OptiSpeed system, which allows the turbine blades to rotate at variable speeds. The revolution speed can vary by up to 60 percent and blades can be continually adjusted in relation to the prevailing wind.
The OptiSpeed converter only transforms the energy from the generator rotor, which is a small part of the total energy generated by the system. The energy generated by the generator rotor is converted back into electricity suitable for the grid by the converter.
The turbines began generating electricity in November and at full capacity, can power 3,000 households.
"This is a major signal today of the potential for a new energy source and a new industry for the UK," said Liddell. "Rapid development of offshore windfarms over the years immediately ahead is a key element in the government's strategy for renewable energy."
"The Renewables Obligation will move this important industry from the margins to the mainstream and give a significant priority to major technological development."
Blyth was the site for the UK’s first semi-offshore wind farm that was installed on the city’s harbor wall in 1992. Nine 300 kilowatt machines were installed at that time.
Liddell said more offshore locations would be made available for windfarms.
"We will be consulting the industry very soon to establish a coordinated procedure for companies to obtain the consents they need for offshore projects," said Liddell.
"The offshore experience of oil and gas companies that are already household names will be invaluable as the UK offshore wind industry gathers momentum. We want to make it easier for companies such as these to invest in this exciting new industry and make progress with proposals."
It is seen as the first step in a new power generation industry expected to contribute almost one fifth of the country’s target for renewable energy by 2010.
In the last century, consumption of non-renewable sources of energy has caused more environmental damage than any other human activity. Electricity generated from fossil fuels such as coal and crude oil has led to high concentrations of harmful gases in the atmosphere.
This has in turn led to problems such as ozone depletion and global warming.
Renewable sources of energy, such as the wind and sun, cause less emissions and are inexhaustible.