World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Begins Operations off England's Coast

UK strikes again by building a 659 MW wind farm beating their own previous record of 630 MW.

Countries have been shifting to renewable sources of energy to meet their electricity needs a lot lately. A viable solution in addition to solar and hydropower is harnessing wind energy.

On September 6, 2018, the Walney Extension took the title of the world’s largest offshore wind farm, covering an impressive 145 sq km with 87 turbines from MHI Vestas and Siemens Gamesa.  

The wind farm is located in the Irish Sea that is situated near the Walney Island, Cumbria. With the operation of Waley Extension, UK can generate 659 Megawatts of energy, enough to power 600,000 UK homes.

By achieving this gigantic feat, UK has reinstated themselves as the pioneers in offshore wind farming to the world. The Walney Extension contract was signed in 2014, and 3 major proprietors joined hands to bring this dream into fruition.

The project is jointly owned by Orsted (50%), PFA and PKA. With the completion of the Walney Extension, it became the 11th operational windfarm from Orsted in the UK. When talking about the UK’s overall wind energy conversion into the review, it amounts to 36% of the total produced in the entire world.

How did Walney Extension beat London Array with half the number of turbines?

The title of the world’s largest offshore wind farm was previously enjoyed by the London Array having 630 Megawatt capability. It has 175 turbines, which were capable of producing a net power of 630 MW.

Now, this might spring confusion in your mind as to how an 87-turbine wind farm can generate more power than a wind farm that has over twice its number of turbines.

The answer comes in the form of selecting turbines that are the latest in its class, offering a much higher efficiency than its competition. The 87 turbines in the Walney Extension is bought from two different manufacturing – 40 MHI Vestas 8MW turbines and 47 Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines.

When they all work in unison, the result is the generation of 659 MW, which is higher than the London Array even while having half the amount of turbines.

It comes to show how much the technology has progressed in the past few years. The turbine of today can generate 50% more energy than the previous generation of turbines.

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"The UK is the global leader in offshore wind, and Walney Extension showcases the industry’s incredible success story. The project, completed on time and within budget, also marks another important step towards Orsted’s vision of a world that runs entirely on green energy,” added Mathew Wright, Orsted UK managing director.

Can Walney Extension hold its title into the future?

There are several reports that state that the current title dawned by Walney Extension might be short-lived. A new project named “East Anglia ONE” is going to become the new industry leader in offshore wind farming.

It is being built in the Suffolk Coast of the southern North Sea, UK

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The East Anglia One is proposed to use 102 Siemens turbines capable of creating 7 MW, generating a total of 714 MW. The project will be completed in 2020 and upon its finalization; Walney Extension must handover the prestigious title to its successor.

We can hope to expect another venture is posing as a new competitor to East Anglia One, and that’s a good thing! This competition means that we are becoming more aggressive to harvest renewable energy rather depend on fossil fuels, a win-win situation for all!

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