• Walney Extension will have 660 megawatts of capacity
  • Dong to use turbines from MHI Vestas Offshore Wind and Siemens

Dong Energy A/S is planning to build the world’s biggest offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea, capable of powering almost half a million homes.

The 660-megawatt Walney Extension project will use turbines from MHI Vestas Offshore Wind A/S and Siemens AG, Fredericia, Denmark-based Dong said Wednesday in a statement on its website. It’s expected to be complete in 2018 and surpass the current record-holder, the 630-megawatt London Array, another Dong project.

The U.K. is banking on offshore wind to help meet its goals to reduce carbon emissions and boost its use of renewable power sources. It’s been largely spared from subsidy cuts that have affected other clean technologies since Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party won the general election in May. Since then, the government has announced plans to pare assistance to onshore wind, solar and biomass projects, while saying it’s committed to meeting Britain’s binding targets.

“British offshore wind has seen phenomenal growth in recent years,” Samuel Leupold, a vice president at Dong, said in the statement. “A prerequisite for long-term growth in the industry is that offshore wind eventually can compete on costs with other energy technologies. Building Walney Extension will bring us one step closer to that target.”

Dong, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind power, plans to install 40 MHI Vestas 8-megawatt turbines and 47 Siemens 7-megawatt machines, according to the statement. The project will provide enough electricity to power 460,000 U.K. homes.

The company expects to have 6.5 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020. Including the Walney Extension, Dong has about 2.1 gigawatts of projects in construction in the U.K. and Germany, which would bring its total to 5.1 gigawatts of capacity.

The project, owned by Dong, is an extension to the existing 367-megawatt Walney 1 and Walney 2 wind farms, in which the company holds a 50.1 percent stake. The extension was awarded guaranteed power contracts by the government in April 2014.

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