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UAE's Masdar eyeing more Britain offshore wind investments

July 8, 2013 at 12:04 AM   |   Comments

MARGATE, England, July 8 (UPI) -- United Arab Emirates renewable energy company Masdar says it is seeking more investments in Britain following the inauguration of the massive London Array.

Masdar Chief Executive Sultan Al Jaber told the Abu Dhabi daily The National his company is pleased with the outcome of its 20 percent stake in the $3.3 billion offshore wind farm in the Outer Thames River estuary, which was officially opened Thursday.

The 630-megawatt, 175-turbine offshore wind farm is the largest in the world, capable of supplying about 500,000 British homes with electricity each year. The project was begun in 2008 and is now seeking investments to add a second phase that would bring its total capacity to 1,000 megawatts.

Masdar signed an initial agreement with the U.K. Green Investment Bank in May to jointly develop clean energy in the country.

"We are exploring further investment opportunities," Jaber said, adding that the British government has created a workable investment climate for offshore wind projects.

"It does cater for what is needed to advance the sector," he said. "I believe the U.K. regulatory framework is robust and consistent."

"The United Arab Emirates has a strong legacy in the energy sector," UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed added. "We believe that by addressing energy security balancing the sources of power we rely on we can also create economic and social opportunity. Through Masdar, the UAE is seriously addressing this goal."

Their comments came as British Prime Minister David Cameron, officials with London Array partners Masdar, Denmark's DONG Energy, Germany's E.ON and Siemens AG and hundreds of other dignitaries gathered at Margate in Kent, England, for its commissioning.

"This is a great day for Kent and a great day for Britain," Cameron said. "London Array has been built by some of the bravest seamen, the most talented engineers and hardest workers. It will bring benefits to Kent for years to come."

Backers say the London Array will reduce annual CO2 emissions by approximately 900,000 tons, about the equivalent of the emissions of 300,000 passenger cars.

"London Array is the world's largest offshore wind power plant and marks a milestone in the development of offshore wind power," Siemens AG Chief Executive Peter Loscher said at the opening ceremony.

The wind farm, located about 12 miles off England's Kent and Essex coast, features 3.6-megawatt turbines with a rotor diameters of nearly 400 feet, with grid connections to one onshore and two offshore substations in the North Sea.

The planned second phase will only be green-lighted after the first phase's effect on birds is studied, The Telegraph reported.

The British government is seeking to boost the country's overall offshore wind capacity from the current 3.3 gigawatts to 16 gigawatts by 2020 as a way to meet its decarbonization targets. Wind power's production cost, $223 per megawatt hour, is nearly three times that of nuclear but is backed by subsides paid for by consumers.

Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven praised the London Array's opening as a sign renewables are making a permanent mark on Britain's energy mix, but warned the government needs to commit to a total phase-out of fossil fuels and economies of scale for wind to bring prices down.

Cameron, he said, "needs to do more than ribbon cut. He needs to give the sector long-term certainty by agreeing to cut carbon completely from our electricity sector."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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