New technologies are often gauged by their ability to break new ground. By that measure alone, offshore wind has arrived.
The fledgling stepsister of land-based wind power faces its own set of hurdles, including, but not limited to, environmental concerns. In Great Britain, one development has managed to avoid some of the same pitfalls that have beleaguered other offshore farms in the United States.
In July, the international power and gas company E.ON, the Danish energy company Dong and Masdar, and the infrastructure fund of the Kingdom of Abu Dhabi officially inaugurated the London Array, a collaborative project in the waters off the Kent coast in southeast England. The 630-megawatt offshore wind farm has been in operation since April with the capacity to meet the demand of about half a million homes.
Offshore construction on the project began in March 2011. After the first foundations and the two 1,250-ton offshore transformer stations were installed, 175 wind turbines were then erected along with more than 200 kilometers of cabling laid at a water depth of 25 meters. Each wind turbine reaches a height of 147 meters above sea level. The two offshore transformer stations bundle the electricity generated by the wind farm and feed it to the power grid on the mainland.
E.ON is also building offshore wind farms in Sweden and the North Sea off Germany’s coast.