The turbines are gone but their legacy remains

Posted 03/09/2019 by E.ON

Nineteen years ago, the blades started turning on the UK's first offshore wind farm. Located half a mile off the Northumberland coast, the two turbines of Blyth Offshore Wind Farm heralded the arrival of a new era of renewable technology.

Thanks in part to this pioneering project, the UK has developed into a world leader in offshore wind. Blyth became a valuable testing ground for offshore construction techniques, operations and maintenance. It started exporting energy to the grid in 2001 and generated enough power to supply the equivalent of more than 2,000 homes a year. It also saved 4,520 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.

As well as being the UK's first offshore wind farm, it was also our first. After nearly two decades in operation, Blyth came to the end of its lifespan earlier this year and was successfully decommissioned.

Bigger and better

Blyth was only the beginning of our move into renewable generation from offshore wind and we've come a long way since then. In the past 19 years, we have developed into a world leader in offshore wind, with a hand in a further 10 projects around Europe.

In the UK we now play a role in a number of offshore wind farms - developing major installations on our own or with partners, including our involvement with Rampion off the coast of Sussex as well as London Array, which was the world's largest operational offshore wind farm when it was completed in 2013.

Together, our three UK offshore wind farms generate enough energy to supply over 327,000 homes. One of our more recent projects, Humber Gateway, is located five miles off the Holderness coast. It became fully operational in 2015, has 73 turbines, and provides enough electricity for the equivalent of about 170,000 homes - around one and a half times a city the size of Hull.

Rampion is even larger and has the capacity to power 350,000 homes, or around half the homes in Sussex, reducing carbon emissions by around 600,000 tonnes a year.

Going even further

As wind farm technology has developed, we've been able to power more homes with each installation, as well as speed up the deployment of each project. Together with the Norwegian energy company Equinor, we invested €1.2 billion and installed the largest wind farm in the Baltic Sea, known as Arkona. It took just three months to construct the 60 wind turbines, faster than ever before in the industry.

This wind farm has the capacity to supply renewable energy to 400,000 homes. Compared to conventionally generated electricity, Arkona saves up to 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

Turbines have been getting progressively taller, too. The Blyth turbines measured 95 meters from base to tip. London Array's turbines reach 147 meters and General Electric has announced its Haliade-X offshore wind turbine will reach 260 meters.

Over the years, as our offshore wind expertise has developed, we've been able to branch out even further. This year, we took the first steps towards setting up offshore wind farms in Japan, where we intend to develop new projects together with Kyuden Mirai Energy. To enable this, we've opened an office in Tokyo and plan to start our activities there with a study to jointly select a future project in the Kyushu area, the southernmost island of Japan.

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