September 23rd, 2010
10:26 AM GMT
London, England (CNN) – By the end of Thursday, Britain will have the ability to get four percent of its electricity consumption from wind, thanks in part to the addition of 100 turbines 11 kilometers off the coast of Kent.
The new site is Vattenfall’s "300 MW Thanet Offshore Wind Farm," a major renewable energy initiative spearheaded by the previous British government. It could supply more than 200,000 homes.
The four-year-old project has been delayed by two years, and at one point was owned by a hedge fund. But now, under Vattenfall, it’s ready.
It seems to me that Britain is getting less praise than Denmark and Germany, or less notice. And today changes that. Britain is so windy it’s estimated an offshore turbine in the UK generates 50 percent more power than a turbine in Germany.
Of the 16 offshore wind farms now under construction around Europe, half are in Britain according to the European OffShore Wind Industry.
That translates to much more wind farm capacity being constructed in the UK (2.4 gigawatts) during the first half of 2010 than the rest of Europe combined (1.5 gigawatts).
In total, wind is close to supplying energy to nearly three million British homes, according to UK energy association RenewableUK.
The challenge is to find places where locals won't complain, which is why offshore wind farms are so desirable. The wind there is also stronger.
Of course, the farther offshore you go, the more it costs to construct and carry power back to shore.
Thanet will not keep its crown as the world largest operational offshore wind farm for long though.
In late 2012 or 2013, the London Array wind farm - a project being funded by energy companies E.ON, DONG Energy and Masdar - is scheduled to start generating electricity just north of the Thanet site.
The owners say the 300 proposed wind turbines could become the world's first one gigawatt offshore wind farm.
When up and running, the London Array will go a long way to helping Britain reach the UK government’s target of providing 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
How does that compare to where you live?
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