The launch marks another important step towards Ørsted’s vision of a world that runs entirely on green energy
The world’s largest operational offshore wind farm in the UK has been officially opened in Cumbria. The 659-megawatt (MW) Walney Extension project takes over the top spot from the London Array.
Walney Extension’s 87 turbines are capable of generating enough green energy to power almost 600,000 UK homes. Covering an area of 145km2 in the Irish Sea, the project becomes Danish company Ørsted’s 11th operational offshore wind farm in the UK.
The company, formerly Dong Energy, owns 50 per cent of the farm with its partners, Danish pension funds PKA and PFA, owning 25 per cent each.
Utilising the latest technology from two of the world’s leading turbine manufacturers, Walney Extension features 47 MHI Vestas 8MW turbines and a further 40 Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines – with blades manufactured in the UK (Hull and the Isle of Wight).
"The UK is the global leader in offshore wind and Walney Extension showcases the industry’s incredible success story. The project, completed on time and within budget, also marks another important step towards Ørsted’s vision of a world that runs entirely on green energy,” said Matthew Wright, Ørsted UK managing director.
"The North-West region plays an important role in our UK offshore wind operations and our aim is to make a lasting and positive impact here. We want to ensure that the local community becomes an integral part of the renewable energy revolution that’s happening along its coastline."
The project has worked with key suppliers from across the UK, supporting the growth of offshore wind "clusters" around the country. More than 50 local suppliers, from Carlisle to Lancaster, were involved throughout construction.
"We want to ensure that the local community becomes an integral part of the renewable energy revolution that’s happening along its coastline"
The completion of Walney Extension brings Ørsted’s total capacity operating out of Barrow up to 1.5 gigawatts (GW), which is enough to power more than 1.2 million UK homes. Ørsted’s ongoing operations and maintenance activities will support more than 250 direct jobs in the region.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry, said: "Record-breaking engineering landmarks like this huge offshore windfarm help us consolidate our global leadership position, break records for generating renewable energy, and create thousands of high quality jobs.
"As part of our modern Industrial Strategy we’ve set out a further £557 million of funding for new renewable projects, helping to tackle climate change and deliver clean growth to local economies."
Construction of Walney Extension was co-ordinated from Ørsted’s West Coast Hub, at the Port of Barrow, which will now become home to the project’s operations and maintenance team. The West Coast Hub also services three further Ørsted offshore wind farms (Barrow, Walney and West of Duddon Sands).
As part of Ørsted’s commitment to the region, a £15million Walney Extension community fund has been set up to support local projects and organisations. Each year, around £600,000 will be made available for the expected 25-year lifetime of the wind farm. To date, Ørsted has funded over 40 inspirational projects – totalling almost £1,000,000 in grants.
Each year £100,000 is also ring-fenced for a skills fund to promote education, support local students and increase uptake of STEM subjects for young people.
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