The world’s largest offshore wind farm to date has been completed, with all 175 Siemens 3.6MW installed and feeding electricity into the UK grid. The wind farm is owned by Dong Energy (50%), E.ON (30%) and Masdar (20%).
Located in the outer Thames Estuary, the 630MW London Array project has been built at a faster rate than many earlier and/or smaller offshore wind projects. The project’s final turbine was energised this past weekend, little more than two years after the first monopile foundation was installed in March 2011.
Final construction work will be completed this summer, when the construction team will formally hand over responsibility for the 90km² phase one site to a long-term operations and maintenance (O&M) team, based in Ramsgate.The wind farm is located about 20km from the Kent and Essex coasts.
An application for a second 240MW phase was submitted to the UK planning inspectorate last autumn.
Construction of London Array has been used by Dong and its key supplier, turbine manufacturer Siemens Energy, as a testing bed for new techniques aimed at industrialising offshore wind installation and lowering its costs. As an example, Siemens successfully minimised vessel journeys and improved safety within the site by introducing independently-managed offshore marine coordination.
Completion of the record-breaking wind farm was achieved despite tough weather conditions this winter. "It has been a complex operation, but I am delighted that the commissioning of the wind farm has now been completed on schedule, despite the worst of the winter weather," said project director Richard Rigg.
While no exact numbers are yet available about the total number of people who worked on London Array, it is thought to be in the region of 4-5000.
London Array has also come to represent dominance of theUK in offshore wind development. The country is home to the world's largest offshore wind operational capacity, with both Dong and E.ON already building further projects in UK waters.