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World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Array To Go Ahead

DONG Energy, E.ON and Masdar will invest DKK 16.4 billion (about $US3 billion) in building the first 630MW phase of the London Array offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary. Once complete, the scheme will be the world’s largest, and the first 1GW, offshore wind farm.

The project will supply enough power for around 750,000 homes—or a quarter of Greater London homes—and displace the emission of 1.9m tonnes of CO2 every year.

The decision to proceed came after the UK Government’s recent proposal to increase its support for offshore wind power, according to the partners, who are now satisfied that the project is now financially viable.

Onshore work is now due to start in the summer, with offshore work due to start in early 2011.

The scheme will be built around 12 miles off the coasts of Kent and Essex. The wind farm will be installed on a 90 square mile site and will be built in two phases. The consortium hopes the first phase of 630MW will be completed and generating in 2012. The first phase will consist of 175 turbines. The second phase will add enough capacity to bring the total to 1,000MW.

The project consortium partners have the following shareholdings: DONG Energy owns 50%, E.ON has 30% and Masdar has a 20% stake.



1 down, 99 to go.

The estimated yield of a 1 GW offshore wind farm is 3.5 TWh per year, roughly 1% of total British consumption.

The x households figure commonly used is misleading in that it ignores the bulk of electricity consumption in the industry and services sectors.

Nobody said that switching to clean energy was going to be quick and easy.


This is fantastic - I agree...1 down 99 to go! Awesome projects for job creation and clean energy. In the US, what is truly mind boggling is how major solar projects are being held up in the Mojave Desert because of an endangered squirrel ( Look - everyday around the world, a daily wildife "holocaust" occurs from animal-vehicle collisions, which is not going to change if cars go electric...but we are holding up major energy independence projects because of a f u c k i n g squirrel? If it comes down to extinction of a squirrel or energy independence for America - I say asta la vista squirrel!


GREAT comments from this article!!!

Comment 1: "If we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave desert, I don't know where the hell we can put it," Governor Schwarzenegger said.

Comment 2: It seems that environmental groups want us to give up our electricity, computers and furnaces to save the planet. They are unwilling to find ways for us to co-exist on earth with animals without reverting to the Stone Age.

Comment 3: Once again, environmentalists have demonstrated they have no interest in the environment — their goal is nationalization of America. For “redistribution of poverty” socialism to succeed, “wealth producing” capitalism must be destroyed. Depriving America of abundant, affordable energy is the environmentalists’ weapon of destruction.

Andrey Levin

It become kind of trademark of wind industry: pretend that loading factor of wind generation is 100%. It is barely 20%, even for off-shore.

But why not to lie if there are plenty of believing fools?


Andrey, the load factor for wind farms depends on where they are located.

Here in the UK, many of our off-shore turbines are getting 35-40% load factor. Even some of the onshore wind farms in the North of Scotland are achieving similar figures, such that the turbines can pay for themselves inside 3 years in the best places.

However I do agree that siting turbines in German valleys with ~10% load factor (as commonly done today for various financial reasons) is probably a waste of good fibreglass.


Andrey Levin,

20% is the lower end of onshore yield. Offshore consistenly gets >>30%. This is from real production data of currently operating wind turbines.

There is an Enercon E-70 nearby where I work. Its distance to the coast is around 25 km, so it is a good location, but not optimal. It is rated at 2 MW, production over 2008 was 4680 MWh, or 2340 full load hours. A year has 8760 hours, so that is 26.7% capacity factor.



Oh, and btw, how did you come to the conclusion that the wind industry assumes 100% capacity factor? That is actually a lie, because they never do.

The 700.000 household figure in the press release is based on expected production, not 100% capacity factor.

Account Deleted

Even for medium wind speed locations new wind turbines are coming to market that can deliver a capacity factor of about 30%. For instance, Vestas launched three new wind turbines for that market segment just 1 month ago. They have not launched any radically different models for 4 years or so, so it is a big deal. All models are radically new because they address the problem of low wind speeds by importantly increasing the rotor diameter for the wind turbines. New materials and blade designs has been developed to make this technically possible without causing problems in durability and reliability. Specifically, the models are the Vestas 3MW with a rotor diameter of 112 meters (high wind speed models use 90 meters), Vestas 1.8MW with a rotor diameter of 100 meters (high wind speed models use 80 to 90 meters) and the small Vestas 850kW with a rotor of 60 meters for the Chinese market only (high wind speed models use 52 meters).

The point is that this wind turbine industry is still immature and has plenty of scope for improvement unlike coal, natural gas and nuclear that are mature industries. Currently they compete head on but in a few years coal and nuclear will be hopelessly non-competitive with wind power. Natural gas will still be competitive because they can provide inexpensive solutions to intermittency problems in a grid that gets its base load from wind power. Also natural gas plants can be converted to run on hydrogen as soon as we solve the problem of making cost effective and durable electrolyzes for hydrogen.



Your example of the new Vestas turbines show that in the wind industry rated power is not regarded as a very important metric. kWh per year per m2 swept area is much more important. In low wind regions, the relative size of the rotor compared to the generator is larger than those intended for high wind locations. Manufacturers tweaking the rotor vs. generator size has been going on for very long, that in itself is not new.

There are also monetary factors to consider. In Eemshaven (Netherlands) a 264 MW project was completed recently. At the last minute, Enercon had to upgrade the generators on all turbines from 2 MW to 3 MW. Why? Because the maximum subsidy was capped at 20.000 full load hours. So with a 2 MW turbine that means a subsidy for a maximum of 40 GWh of energy. With a 3 MW turbine, that is 60 GWh. With around 7 ct/kWh of subsidy, that is 4.2 million euros per turbine extra. Will the 50% larger generators produce 50% more energy? Of course not, the rotor stays the same, so the energy input stays the same. The larger generator could profit from a few very windy days, but that is marginal. The capacity factor will simply drop by 33%.

This sucks of course. The energy industry is just like any other in that it tries to maximize subsidies, and thereby, profit.

Andrey Levin

Load factor of 35-40% for wind turbines is another BS happily propagated by wind industry.

The trick is very simple: calculations of load factor uses average wind speed. But it does not work this way. Wind turbine does not produce electricity at all at low wind speed, and even more importantly, at high wind speed too. At lower wind speed electricity generation drops dramatically, as square of wind speed. If integrated properly, even the best locations yield average yearly load factor of about 20%.

Then there is downtime for maintenance. Then some turbines go broke (not a single wind turbine lived as long as it was advertised, so far). Then there is electricity which is impossible to use due to wrong timing (Denmark began to FINE wind electricity producers for electricity produced at wrong time). Then there is issue of necessary spinning reserve.

All of it, actually, does not matter, because at about 5% of total electricity generation wind turbines begin to destabilize the grid, due to unpredictable swings back and force of electricity currents over the grid.

All in all, wind electricity is much more expensive (and becomes even more expensive with increase of wind generation share), unscaleable, and holds even less promise than, say, corn ethanol.

It is reality, like it or not.



Like it or not, but your story is BS, sorry. The capacity factors are NOT based on calculations but on actual production data.

"because at about 5% of total electricity generation wind turbines begin to destabilize the grid, due to unpredictable swings back and force of electricity currents over the grid."

Nonsense. Denmark is at 20%, Spain 11%, Germany 7%. Local concentrations in these countries if even higher. They have very stable grids. This subject has been studied to death by the grid operators. And while investments and adaptations are necessary, integration of variable wind energy into the grid poses no fundamental problems.

You should know that grid operators are like bankers. They love stability and hate risks. If any of the problems that you describe are really showstoppers, you can rest assured they would have let us know that long time ago.

"Then there is downtime for maintenance"

Wind turbines have an average uptime of 98%-99%. Again, this is not wind industry marketing, but actual, operational data.

"Then there is issue of necessary spinning reserve."

What about it? Spinning reserve is always necessary to deal with unexpected outages of, say, a nuclear reactor. Variability does not autmatically mean you need 'spinning' reserve. As long as the supply and demand are predictable, no extra spinning reserve is necessary. Do you actually know what spinning reserve is?

"not a single wind turbine lived as long as it was advertised, so far"

Not true. If a wind turbine is removed early, it is usually because it makes economic sense to replace it by a newer, more modern one. I can safely say "prove it" because I know you can't.

First read up on your subject, then come barging in making all kinds of hilarious assertions.

Account Deleted

Andrey your reality is not out of this world. Pretty much all of your claims are false or grotesquely simplified. For instance, the claim that at 5% wind power the grid becomes unstable. Well, Denmark at 19% wind power has one of the most stable grids in the world. Spain and Portugal at 11% wind power in the grid has no problems either. Northern states of Germany have grids of 30% wind power no problems their either.

It will still take many years (11 years with 30% annual wind industry growth and 15 years with 20% annual growth) before the global grid reach 20% from wind power and at that time smart grids in combination with inexpensive electrolyzes and PEM fuel cells or converted gas power plants will be ready to take the global grid to 70% from wind power without any stability problems (the remaining 30% coming from hydro, geothermal and solar power). Coal and nuclear are doomed and the sooner this is realized by more people the faster we can proceed with the transformation of the current grid into one that is sustainable.


Clett & Andrey:

You may both be right and wrong. The capacity factor of individual wind farms vary according to their location, tower height and month of the year. The latest average capacity factor for Canadian wind farms is 32%. Individual wind farms capacity factor varies from a low of 18% for badly located early farms to 41% for better located latest farms.

The best so far are the wind farms around Murdochville in central Gapsé with a yearly average capacity factor of 41%. Even those well located farms vary from 55% during the winter months to about 33% for summer months. That's ideal for cold climate areas using electricity for heating.

New wind mills/turbines are effective with winds from about 13 kph to 90 kph. Of course a good steady wind of about 30 to 40 kph will give very high capacity factors of up to 55% and even more.

Please note that a wind turbine couples with electronically connected and disconnected 2 to 4 generators in series can produce more total power at location with poorer variable winds to abtain a higher average capacity factor.

High quality wind places are many in Canada. The Upper Labrador and Lower St-Lawrence north shores are among the best. Wind farms installed there (in the future) could be connected to existing Churchill Falls and other nearby existing high voltage power lines at reasonable cost.

For effective capacity factors, electricity produced by wind farms must be used at near to 100%. One of the best way to obtain that is to couple wind power with another easily variable electricity source such as Hydro or NG Power plants.

Colocating wind farms with Hydro plants is ideal because Hydro plants can vary their output quickly enough and use the huge water reservoirs to accumulate unused energy whenever windfarms are producing more. No water pumps nor batteries are required. In other words, wind farms are used (eventually) as base load and Hydro for peak demands and complementary base load demands.

Don't give up of wind power in Canada because it could produce about 500% of the current consumption and may be needed when every family will have 2 or 3 BEVs. It is and will be a fast growing clean industry for decades to come. It could replace coal fired power plants and most oil extracted from tar sands by 2030/2040. Canada (and the world) would be a better place to live.

Our GHG per capita could go from the one of the world's highest (25 tonnes) to one of the lowest, if we fully electrify transport vehicles, home + public + commercial + industrial HVAC, our industries etc.


Andrey points out that there is "down time" with wind gen. Well, guess what?...there's down time with coal and nuclear (especially nuc.).



clett said "Here in the UK, many of our off-shore turbines are getting 35-40% load factor." This is true and can be verified from the production data of those windfarms.

Andrey said "even the best locations yield average yearly load factor of about 20%." This is untrue. The best locations are offshore. Horns Rev for example averages 45% from 2005 - 2008, other offshore parks show similar figures.

Sorry Harvey, I do not share your conclusion: "You may both be right and wrong."? Clearly one is right and one is wrong.


3b$ for 630MW. At an average capacity factor of 30%, that's 3b$ for 200MW continuously or 15000$/kW.
at a price of 10c/kWh, you have a pay-back after 150000/24/360=17 years.
That's not yet extremely cheap, but probably cheaper than coal or nuclear.

Account Deleted

Good point Alain although a capacity factor of 30% for an off-shore location with the newest wind turbines is too low. It will be anything from 40% to 55%.

However, off-shore wind power is not there yet. It is too expensive compared to on-shore wind power. For an accurate estimate of the cost of on-shore wind power take the global wind industry turnover in 2008 at 47.5 billion USD and divide it by the global wind turbine installation in 2008 at 27000 MW. That is 1759 USD per installed kW. This is the on-shore price because off-shore installations in 2008 were still negligible. For comparison this off-shore project is 3 billion for 630MW or 4762 USD per installed kW. This is almost three times as expensive as an average on-shore wind project and it can only produce about 50% more energy because it will likely have a capacity factor of 45% versus 30% for a typical on-shore project. For mysterious reasons British politicians want off-shore wind power and they direct the subsidies in this direction. Very wasteful IMO.



Your point are well taken. Wgen I said they may both be right and wrong is that loas factors are in fact as low as 18% for some badly located wind farms and as high as 45% for well located farms.

The wide magin makes both Clett and Andrey sometime right and sometime wrong.

People who selected poor sites with very low load factors of around 18% to 25% should be looking for another job.

I agree with you that an average of 40% is possible, specially for offshore sites and also for on-shore sites with good high quality winds.

Promoters should be prompted to find and use sites with better load factor potential (i.e 40% or better) in order to get subsidies. Otherwise, they will use just about any site regardless of on-going performances.


Um folks the reason they go to the trouble of offshore windfarms is to take advanatage of much greater wind energy out there. Thats the only reason you see 30-40% rates in windfarms..

But the problem is maintenance is a BIG deal. Your basicaly maintaining dozens if not hundreds of lighthouses in the middle of realy bad parts of the ocean. Oh and one realy bad storm and woosh its all at the bottom of the ocean.

Andrey Levin

As I said, blatant exasperations of wind industry meet willing gullibility of “optimists”.

However, detailed technical reports paint quite different picture. Just one for example:



very good!
also look at this:

Wintermane, a German company makes wind turbines which do not have a mechanical transmission and require very little maintenance.



Maintenance at sea a BIG deal? Do you have any solid information to support that? Maintenance is more expensive and you must do more preventive maintenance because waiting for a turbine to break down might mean months of productivity loss due to adverse weather conditions. It is not a problem, just another economic factor.

"Oh and one realy bad storm and woosh its all at the bottom of the ocean."

Yes, wind turbines will be lost to very bad weather. Just like are powerlines, houses, trees, oil rigs, levees. The companies that put those wind turbines out at sea actually know very well what they're doing and carefully design those turbines to be strong enough. But not too strong, losing a few every now and again is often cheaper than making all of them so strong they can withstand the perfect storm.



Your last post makes it painfully clear you have no knowledge about the subject and no arguments. Pasting a link from a pro-nuclear site, is that the best you can do?

Btw the article is a sloppy job as this quote proves:
"Total system capacity is 6850 MWe and maximum load during 2002 was 3700 MWe, hence a huge 81% margin. In 2002, 3.38 billion kWh were produced from the wind, a load factor of 16.8%."

Did you actually take the effort of verifying that? In reality, the installed capacity in Denmark in 2002 was 2892 MW, not 6850. Where they got the 3.38 TWh figure from is also beyond me. There has never been a year with that production. 2002 was 4.8 TWh. You can verify that in the spreadsheet below. It contains data on every single turbine in Denmark and all production figures of those turbines since 1977.

Currently, installed capacity is 3.166 GW and 2008 production was 6975 GWh. Full load hours: 6975/3.166 = 2203. This is a 25% load factor, not 16.8%.

Another big point they make in the article is that that Denmark can not be self sufficient with wind power, they need Norwegian hydro for balancing supply and demand. Duh. No wind advocate will ever ignore the fact that wind is variable. There is well over 100 GW of hydro in Europe and it plays a vital role in the whole picture.

There is no good reason why neighbouring countries can't provide services for each other. You should look at the whole picture and then decide on whether its going to work or not. The whole picture is: wind + hydro + solar + others + geographic spreading.

Account Deleted

I may add a little to the topic about maintenance cost. Contrary to what Wintermane postulates the cost of maintaining wind turbines are among the lowest when compared to other power technologies perhaps with exception of hydro power and PV solar. Modern wind turbines are designed only to get one service check every year where cooling liquid, lubrication and brakes are refilled or replaced. On-shore wind turbines often also need to get their wings cleaned once every 5 year or so because insects are accumulating (smacked) on the wings and make them heavier and less aerodynamic. However, sea based wind farms do not have this problem because there are no insects at sea only over land. Cleaning of wings is perhaps the most expensive maintenance cost for land based wind turbines but even here newly introduced cleaning robots promise to bring these cost down for future maintenance of wind turbines.

PS. I got some info about the cost composition of this project. Siemens are delivering the 630MW of wind turbines for about 1 billion EUR. The rest of the cost up to 3 billion USD is for sea foundations and transmission lines. This shows that the price of the wind turbines is less than half of the total project cost when you consider sea based projects. For a land based projects that percentage is likely to be over 80%.



Do you have a link to that info?

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