Plans to create the world’s biggest offshore wind farm off the coast of Britain have been approved.
Work on the massive Triton Knoll site – 288 giant wind turbines off the Lincolnshire coast – can now begin after the £3.6bn project was given the go ahead.
It will dwarf Britain’s current largest offshore facility, the 175-turbine London Array in the Thames Estuary unveiled last week by David Cameron.
Go-ahead: An offshore wind farm off the coast of Skegness in Lincolnshire
When complete, the new giant windfarm will generate 1.2 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power for 820,000 homes.
But critics say it will not come without a cost, as offshore power is currently subsidised by the taxpayer at three time the wholesale price of conventionally-produced electricity.
And the scheme is not without controversy. As part of the project, energy giant RWE are proposing building a substation the size of 30 football pitches connected to the offshore turbines, in the Lincolnshire countryside.
The proposal was met with anger by some residents, who have accused the company of trying to turn the area into an industrial site.
Others said it would drive down house prices The Government also approved a second scheme yesterday, in Wales. Energy company Vattenfall confirmed it is investing £400 million in England and Wales’ largest onshore wind farm at Pen y Cymoedd, South Wales.
The scheme, which will consist of 76 turbines, will begin next year, with the first power being generated for the grid in 2016.
Hundreds of jobs are expected to be created in the construction phase of both projects.
Plans: Map showing where the massive Triton Knoll wind farm will be built off the Lincolnshire coastline
Tensions between energy firms and residents have been growing over the past two years as applications have soared.
There are currently more than 3,000 onshore wind turbines in Britain, with a further 2,500 approved or being built.
Despite increasing public anger at the subsidies paid for green power, ministers have shown no sign of changing course.
Last month , Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, promised guaranteed prices – fixed at up to triple the market rate – for electricity from ‘green’ technologies such as wind, solar and biomass until 2019, in a bid to expand the sector.
Ministers say the financial incentive will make Britain an attractive place to invest and transform our energy supply, and are hoping that 30 per cent of power produced by 2020 will be from renewables.
Onshore wind farms are set to be given a minimum of £100 per megawatt hour – double the current wholesale rate of £50 – while offshore wind will receive a staggering £150.
The difference between the wholesale price and the agreed rate will be met by the taxpayer.
In February, more than 100 Tory MPs criticised the Government’s plan to introduce more wind farms.
Dozens of backbenchers wrote to David Cameron to demand that the £400million in subsidies paid to the ‘inefficient’ industry each year is ‘dramatically cut’.
Director of offshore renewables at industry body RenewableUK Nick Medic said the approval for the new Triton Knoll offshore wind farm was a ‘historic step’ for the industry.
He said: ‘It is the biggest project consented so far anywhere in the world, and shows the UK’s offshore sector maturing to take on new challenges of scale.
‘Following world leading projects such as the London Array, opened last week, Triton Knoll will demonstrate what offshore wind can do for the UK on a grand scale.
‘The planning consent today keeps the country firmly at the forefront of offshore wind development and will help secure up to 20 per cent of electricity from offshore wind per year by 2020.’
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