Britain is set to become home to two of the world's largest offshore wind farms after ministers approved plans for a new 1,800-megawatt project capable of supplying 1.8 million UK homes. Hornsea Project Two will be built 55 miles off the coast of Grimsby and could feature up to 300 turbines -- each one taller than the Gherkin building in London.
The development will take advantage of the £730 million made available by the government as part of its commitment to renewable energy. Offshore wind is already on track to meet 10 percent of the UK's total electricity demand by 2020 and the Hornsea project will help the government meet its target of 10GW installed by that time. It'll also support 1,960 construction jobs and 580 operational and maintenance jobs, say ministers.
The approval comes just weeks after the government delayed plans for the new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant. The project, which is said to cost £18 billion but could set back the taxpayer up to £37 billion, has been criticised because energy generation is significantly more expensive than gas-powered plants. If built, Hinkley Point C will generate 3,200 megawatts or 7 percent of the UK's total power, supplying around 6 million homes.
If Hornsea Project Two is built to full capacity, the project is expected to cost £6 billion. Taxpayers are only on the hook for £730 million of that and it will be spread across all renewable efforts during this government. Arguments could be made that six Hornsea offshore wind installations could be built for the same total subsidy cost of Hinkley, which could theoretically generate a lot more power than the nuclear project.
Green campaigners have long championed the benefits of wind energy as it would help lower the UK's carbon footprint and may also increase investment in UK steel and boost Britain's manufacturing industry. Over the past three years, offshore wind construction costs have almost halved and the government expects UK wind prices to match those of new gas generation within a decade.
Dong, the company behind the Hornsea build, are also set to build a 660-megawatt farm in the Irish Sea. The Walney Extension project will be located 12 miles off the coast of Cumbria, ensuring the UK becomes home to two of the world's biggest wind projects.