A sign of things to come? Roving British sailors might be a little conflicted about the prospect of the ever exploding number of wind farms in British waters, but RenewableUK, the organisation which represents renewable energy organisations, is delighted with the new - largest ever - wind farm in England and Wales to get the green light.
RenewableUK says this week's announcement that East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm has gained planning consent from the Department of Energy and Climate Change is a boost for the UK's offshore wind sector. They write:
Planned East Anglia Array - .. .
The joint venture between ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall has the capacity to generate clean electricity for 820,000 homes, creating 1,800 jobs locally in East Anglia and bringing an estimated Â£500 million to the region's economy during the lifetime of the project.
Across the UK, up to 2,700 jobs could be created in the 3-year construction phase. RenewableUK's Chief Executive Maria McCaffery said: 'This excellent news provides a huge confidence boost for the UK's entire offshore wind sector. Our world-beating offshore wind industry is set to more than treble in size by the end of the decade â€' projects like this will help us to maintain our global lead.
Only last week the Conservative Energy Minister Michael Fallon described offshore wind as a vital sector for the UK's economy. It's heartening to see Government backing this part of our industry extremely pro-actively. When it comes to recognising the benefits for Britain in terms of investment and jobs in offshore wind, Ministers really do get it, and it's great to have them on board.
Today's news marks the start of what is set to be one of the world's major green energy infrastructure developments. East Anglia ONE is the first of six projects within the same zone with a combined capacity of up to 7.2 gigawatts, which is enough to power more than 4.6 million British homes./
'Windmill to starboard! Windmill to port!' - .. .
Projects like East Anglia ONE are vital for our energy security, especially at a time when the level of instability in the Middle East is getting worse. Relying on importing fossil fuels looks like an increasingly risky option, so we will need more onshore and offshore wind, and wave and tidal projects, to help us meet our energy needs.
Following a final investment decision, construction work could begin on East Anglia ONE in 2017, with generation starting in 2019. The 1,200MW project, consisting of up to 240 turbines, will cover an area of 300km2 off the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk.
*Notes: RenewableUK's Offshore Wind Project Timelines, published on 11th June, demonstrates the extraordinary expansion in installed capacity in UK waters so far and charts its growth up to 2027: http://www.renewableuk.com/en/publications/reports.cfm/Offshore-Wind-Project-Timelines