The Government has today announced plans for £100 billion project for off-shore windfarms comprising of up to 5,000 turbines; this includes a proposal for a 4,000 mega watt (MW) turbine site covering a large area of the North Sea approximately 80km off of the Hornsea coast. This could include up to 570 x massive 7 MW rated wind turbines. (By comparison Drax power Station’s 6 x 660MW steam turbines give a total of 3,960MW)
I broadly support the concept of off-shore wind generation and welcome this as a positive step, but I would like to see the potential for wave and tidal power moved higher up the Government’s agenda and for funding to be made available to fully exploit these more efficient and predictable alternatives.
Off-shore windfarms have many advantages over, and in my opinion ultimately more preferable than, on-shore windfarms as there is very little negative visual impact or noise issues for neighbouring communities, nor transportation of wind turbine components along narrow rural roads.
An off-shore wind farm can be of a sufficient size and scale to be economical, as the winds off-shore tend to be more constant and predictable, therefore the turbines will be somewhat more efficient than the pathetically low rates achieved by on-shore turbines.
Care must be taken in finding ways to connect the power to the national grid without the need for miles and miles of new pylons, it is essential that underground cabling is used or that existing pylons are utilised or upgraded wherever possible and any new pylons be placed in areas where they are least intrusive.