Eon to build fifth U.K. offshore wind farm

Feb. 15, 2011 at 3:16 PM
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LONDON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- German energy giant Eon has been given the green light to build its fifth offshore wind farm in Britain, making it the dominant developer in Europe for wind farms at sea.

British authorities last week gave Eon permission to build a 77-turbine wind farm about 5 miles off the coast of Yorkshire in northeastern England. The 230-megawatt offshore wind farm, called Humber Gateway, could eventually generate electricity for up to 170,000 households. Duesseldorf-based Eon said construction of the project would create around 1,000 jobs in the Yorkshire region.

Humber Gateway would be Eon's fifth offshore wind farm in Britain, after Blyth, Scroby Sands, Robin Rigg and its stake in the 1-gigawatt London Array, the world's largest offshore wind farm in planning.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after German technology giant Siemens said it would build a wind turbine manufacturing facility in the port of Hull, also in Yorkshire, making Siemens an obvious bidder to supply Humber Gateway with turbines.

"This is really exciting news for us as we see offshore wind as an important part in the future energy mix of the U.K.," Michael Lewis, managing director of Eon's European renewables business, said in a statement. "It's essential that we continue to invest in renewable technologies and this is further recognition of our expertise in the sector generally and in offshore wind in particular."

The British government is equally happy.

London aims to reduce Britain's carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent until 2020 and to boost the share of renewables in the energy mix to 15 percent, also by 2020.

In a bid to reach its ambitious clean energy targets, the British government has aggressively supported offshore wind power, with numerous farms planned off the island's coast. Britain produces more electricity from offshore wind than all other nations combined.

"Offshore wind not only provides clean, green, secure energy, the investment that comes with it is great for the British economy too," Britain's Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne said in a statement. "A new wind farm off the Humberside coast will be a further jobs and investment boost for the region, hot on the heels of Siemens' announcement of plans to develop the Port of Hull."

Huhne last September officially opened the 600 MW Thanet wind farm, made up of 100 turbines shimmering and turning off the southern English coast, the world's biggest offshore wind farm in operation.

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