This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Energy Digital.
Wind farms are a major undertaking that use up a lot of space. Sometimes, offshore wind is the solution.
In this article, Energy Digital looks at the top 10 offshore wind farms by sheer generating capacity.
10. Lincs - U.K., 270 MW
Located off the east coast of England, the Lincs Wind Farm is a £1 billion wind farm owned by Centrica, DONG Energy, and Siemens. The project began in 2004, though was only completed in 2013. A notable inclusion in the project is the extensive underground cable system that runs electricity back to land. This comprised 25 percent of the project’s cost and will outlast the 40 year lifespan of the project itself.
9. Meerwind Süd/Ost - Germany, 288 MW
The Meerwind wind farms are two separate wind farms (south and east) located in the German Bright of the North Sea. The farms only opened in September of last year and are owned by WindMW. The location of the project is particularly notable for its location, which boats a stellar combination of strong winds a convenient water depth. The farm also uses the nearby island of Helgoland as its maintenance base.
8. Thanet - U.K., 300 MW
The Thanet wind farm is off the southeastern cost of Kent in the U.K. When it was completed in 2010, it was set to be the largest operational wind farm in the world. Judging as how it’s now number eight on the list, that is no longer the case. Still, the Thanet project uses state-of-the-art Vestas turbines and is owned by Vattenfall.
7. Sheringham Shoal - U.K., 317 MW
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the U.K. is a major world leader in offshore wind energy and Sheringham Shoal is one of the country’s most iconic projects. The turbines are huge—so big, a double-decker bus could drive through one. Ownership of the project is split 50-50 between Statoil and Statkraft. The estimated actual output of the project is around 125 MW, which is sufficient to power approximately 220,000 average UK homes, more than twice the equivalent electricity required to supply the whole of the North Norfolk coast.
6. Thorntonbank - Belgium, 325 MW
Stationed off the north coast of Belgium, this farm recently reached its maximum planned capacity of 325 MW. The project was completed in three phases, with the most recently being finished in September of 2013. It currently has 54 operational units and cost an estimated £1.3 billion to complete. It was designed to have a minimum environmental impact to both sea life and shipping routes.
5. Walney - U.K., 367 MW
Located in the Irish Sea, the Walney Wind Farm is in a little shallower waters than some of the others on this list in only 19-23m waters. The project is a partnership between DONG Energy and Scottish and Southern Energy. DONG was awarded a 50-year lease for the project and completed the construction in two phases. The wind warm saw a small crisis earlier this year when a dive vessel crashed into one of the turbines and spilled a small amount of oil into a sea.
4. BARD Offshore 1 - Germany, 400 MW
The BARD Offshore 1 wind farm is also relatively new, as it was only completed in September of 2013. Owned by Enovos, the farm sits off the north coast of Germany. The project is noteworthy for its use of the Wind Lift 1 barge during its construction, which placed the massive, 470 ton, 21 meter foundations into the seabed.
3. Anholt - Denmark, 400 MW
The largest offshore wind farm in Denmark, Anholt was also only completed in September of 2013. A project of DONG Energy, the wind farm cost roughly 10 billion Danish kroner to build. This project is unique in its placement of the Siemens turbines. Usually, turbines are placed in a grid pattern of lines and rows, though that’s not the case with Anholt. The turbines placed in an unusual pattern, governed by two principles: put most of them along the edges, and put most in undisturbed airflow from the main direction, which is West-southwest—increasing production by 1.5%, a lifetime value of more than 100m Danish kroner.
2. Greater Gabbard - U.K., 504 MW
The Greater Gabbard wind farm started out as a project between Airtricity and Fluor, though through mergers, acquisitions and other moves, it is currently owned by Scottish and Southern Energy. It was finished in 2012, though there is ongoing work on the underwater cables for the project. The project will also undergo expansion, adding 140 turbines by 2017.
1. London Array - U.K., 630
The London Array is the king of the offshore wind farm. The project has multiple owners and has seen a huge investment of £1.8 billion. Located near the southwest coast of England, the project is a sight to behold. The array is intended to reduce annual CO2 emissions by roughly 900,000 tons—equal to the emissions of 300,000 passenger cars.