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World’s largest offshore wind farm breaks industry records in the UK

Wind farm has 102 turbines and a total capacity of 367.2 MW to power up to 320,000 households a year

DONG Energy’s Burbo Bank wind farm
DONG Energy’s Burbo Bank wind farm

The world’s largest operational offshore wind farm has opened in the UK. The GBP 1bn Walney wind farm has been built off the coast of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

The wind farm has 102 turbines and a total capacity of 367.2 MW and can supply up to 320,000 households a year with renewable power. The 102 Siemens Wind Power turbines each have a capacity of 3.6 MW.

The offshore wind farm a joint venture between power firms DONG Energy, SSE and OPW. It combines the Walney 1 and 2 projects, has already set a number of industry records, and will create approximately 60 jobs at its new operations centre in Barrow-in-Furness.

The wind farm is being officially opened by Edward Davey, secretary of state for energy and Climate Change. He said: “Britain has a lot to be proud of in our growing offshore wind sector. Our island’s tremendous natural resource, our research base and a proud history of engineering make this the number one destination for investment in offshore wind.”

DONG Energy said it is committed to developing the UK’s offshore wind resources, with 1GW of offshore wind generation on stream or under construction in the UK. This makes an investment programme totalling around GBP 3bn in offshore wind alone.

DONG Energy managed to construct Walney 2 in the fastest ever time for an offshore wind project, with all turbines and cables installed in just five months and 13 days, setting a record in the sector. It marks an important step for the industry.

Walney is also ground-breaking in its financing, being the first UK offshore wind farm to receive investment from a pension fund service provider and an equity fund before it had even been built. OPW, a consortium of the Dutch pension fund service provider PGGM and Ampere Equity Fund, took a 24.8 per cent stake in the project in December 2010.

The partnership with PGGM and Ampere Equity Fund, which is managed by Triodos Bank’s subsidiary Triodos Investment Management, clearly demonstrates that institutional investors are willing to invest in well-structured offshore wind projects alongside market leading industry participants. DONG Energy has around 30 per cent of the offshore wind market throughout Europe.

Anders Eldrup, CEO of DONG Energy, said: “DONG Energy is delighted to have developed this record-breaking wind farm. Not only is it the world’s biggest wind farm but it has been built in the fastest time ever and it marked a new era in terms of financing being the first project in the UK backed by institutional investors. Walney is a landmark in offshore wind and DONG Energy’s strong drive to further industrialise offshore wind power and cut costs. It demonstrates our commitment to invest in the UK.”