An application to proceed with up to 1.2GW in offshore wind capacity within the UK's Round 3 Hornsea development zone will be submitted before the middle of this year, following a final round of public consultation that begins next week.
Plans for the first phase of the 4GW Hornsea zone will be presented to the UK Planning Inspectorate during the second quarter (April-June) of the year. Project developer, SMart Wind, will propose a three-stage project within a 70km² area off England's East Yorkshire coast. If final regulatory approval is achieved without delay construction could begin in 2015, with full commissioning as early as mid-2018. However, this is the "earliest" possible timescale for the project, according to SMart Wind.
The upcoming consent application will propose 150-332 turbines with a rated capacity ranging from 3.6-8MW. Given that Siemens Project Ventures holds a third share in the first phase of Hornsea – and a 50% stake in the Hornsea zone as a whole - it may be that Siemens' new 6MW 154m model will be amongst the turbines eventually selected.
The closest turbine to shore earmarked for the first phase of Hornsea's development would be 103km out, which would make the wind farm entirely invisible from shore. Even the project's offshore electricity transformer station, which would be much closer to the coast, would not be visible, according to SMart Wind.
SMart Wind is the 50:50 joint venture between Mainstream Renewable Power and Siemens Project Ventures awarded the right to develop Hornsea in 2010. In late 2011, Dong Energy bought a 33.3% stake in the first phase, and it has since bought a third of the second phase.
Public consultation is about to begin on a second phase of development for Hornsea. An initial scoping report was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate last autumn, outlining plans for up to 1.8GW in capacity, featuring turbines of 5-15MW. With much of the necessary environmental, geophysical and geotechnical survey work for phase two already complete, SMart Wind hopes to submit a consent application as early as the final quarter of this year.