The world's largest operational offshore wind farm, Walney Extension, has officially been opened at a ceremony in Cumbria. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Energy Harvesting Microwatt to Megawatt 2019-2029.
The 659-megawatt (MW) project, owned by Ørsted (50%) and partners PKA (25%) and PFA (25%), leapfrogs London Array to become the world's largest operational wind farm. Walney Extension's 87 turbines are capable of generating enough green energy to power almost 600,000 UK homes. Covering an area of 145km2 in the Irish Sea, the project becomes Ørsted's 11th operational offshore wind farm in the UK.
Utilising the latest technology from two of the world's leading turbine manufacturers, Walney Extension features 40 MHI Vestas 8MW turbines and a further 47 Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines - with blades manufactured in the UK (Hull and the Isle of Wight). The project has worked with key suppliers from across the UK, supporting the growth of offshore wind "clusters" around the country. More than 50 local suppliers, from Carlisle to Lancaster, were involved throughout construction.
The completion of Walney Extension brings Ørsted's total capacity operating out of Barrow up to 1.5 gigawatts (GW), which is enough to power more than 1.2 million UK homes. Ørsted's ongoing operations and maintenance activities will support more than 250 direct jobs in the region.
Matthew Wright, Ørsted UK managing director, said: "The UK is the global leader in offshore wind and Walney Extension showcases the industry's incredible success story. The project, completed on time and within budget, also marks another important step towards Ørsted's vision of a world that runs entirely on green energy. The North-West region plays an important role in our UK offshore wind operations and our aim is to make a lasting and positive impact here. We want to ensure that the local community becomes an integral part of the renewable energy revolution that's happening along its coastline."
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry, said: "Record-breaking engineering landmarks like this huge offshore windfarm help us consolidate our global leadership position, break records for generating renewable energy, and create thousands of high quality jobs.As part of our modern Industrial Strategy we've set out a further £557 million of funding for new renewable projects, helping to tackle climate change and deliver clean growth to local economies."
Henrik Nøhr Poulsen, Executive Director and responsible for Equities and Alternative Investments at PFA, said: "At PFA we are very proud to be a part of this great project, together with Ørsted and PKA, which is a milestone in the market of renewable energy and an important contribution towards the green transition. It's an historic event and the biggest infrastructure investment we have been a part of in PFA. The Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm investment represents a considerable extension of our portfolio of alternative investments and fits perfectly into our strategic focus on providing our customers with reliable and stable long-term returns."
Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO at PKA, said: "We're proud to participate in the opening of the world's largest offshore wind farm to date, and to supply over half a million UK homes with green power. Walney Extension is our sixth investment in wind farms since 2011, and is yet another important contribution to PKA's ambitious climate strategy in which we continuously work to create good returns to our members while at the same time making a positive difference for the climate."
Construction of Walney Extension was co-ordinated from Ørsted's West Coast Hub, at the Port of Barrow, which will now become home to the project's operations and maintenance team. The West Coast Hub also services three further Ørsted offshore wind farms (Barrow, Walney and West of Duddon Sands).
As part of Ørsted's commitment to the region, a £15million Walney Extension community fund has been set up to support local projects and organisations. Each year, around £600,000 will be made available for the expected 25-year lifetime of the wind farm. To date, Ørsted has funded over 40 inspirational projects - totalling almost £1,000,000 in grants.
Each year £100,000 is also ring-fenced for a 'Skills Fund' to promote education, support local students and increase uptake of STEM subjects for young people. Ørsted has expanded its apprenticeship scheme to the West coast and has partnered with Furness College to deliver the three-year courses for the next generation of wind turbine technicians.
Facts about Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm
- Located in the Irish Sea - approximately 19km from the Walney Island coast in Cumbria
- Covers an area of 145km2 - equal to around 20,000 football pitches or 10 Lake Windermeres
- Total capacity of 659MW - capable of powering almost 600,000 UK homes
- Project is owned by Ørsted (50%), PKA (25%) and PFA (25%)
Source and top image: Walney Extension