EON SE, Dong Energy A/S and Masdar Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co. opened the world’s largest marine wind farm off England as industry and environmental groups urged the U.K. to step up clean-energy efforts.
Prime Minister David Cameron attended the opening of the 2.2 billion-euro ($2.84 billion) London Array project, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the coasts of Kent and Essex. The 630-megawatt project with 175 Siemens AG turbines can power about half a million homes and became operational in April, EON said today in a statement.
“London Array shows you can build large-scale renewable energy projects right here in Britain,” Cameron said at the opening. “This is because when it comes to clean energy, the U.K. has one of the clearest investment climates globally.”
Britain, with the world’s biggest marine wind capacity, seeks to get 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade, up from about 12 percent now. Manufacturers such as Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Areva SA want more guarantees of future support and a 2030 emissions target, which the government decided against including in energy legislation now being drafted.
“A strong signal from the very top of our political establishment will help to put an end to the siren calls from the naysayers who’ve failed to appreciate the scale of the opportunity Britain has here,” Maria McCaffery, chief executive officer of RenewableUK, which represents the wind industry, said in a statement. “We need to maintain our pole position in offshore wind energy.”
Britain has more than 3,300 megawatts of installed offshore wind capacity, more than the rest of the world combined. While it had an initial plan to reach 18,000 megawatts by 2020, the government announced June 27 its program to spur developments with payments triple the current electricity price for power they generate may result in 8,000 megawatts to 16,000 megawatts of turbines at sea.
Cameron “needs to give the sector long-term certainty by agreeing to cut carbon completely from our electricity sector,” Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven said in an e-mailed statement.
London Array opened as EDF Energies Nouvelles SA, the clean energy unit of French utility Electricite de France SA, said it completed building the 325 megawatt C-Power wind farm offshore Belgium. The plant will be fully operational from September, the company said in a statement today.
London Array is owned by Danish utility Dong with 50 percent, EON with 30 percent and Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy initiative, holds 20 percent. The venture will save 900,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year, according to EON.