The Government has given the green light to a major offshore wind farm which could prove to be the cheapest yet in UK waters.
Greg Clark, the Business and Energy Secretary, granted ScottishPower planning permission to build the second phase of its East Anglia wind farm 42 miles off the coast of Norfolk using wind turbines more than two and a half times the height of London’s Big Ben.
The 1.2GW project could produce enough electricity to power nearly a million homes by 2025, and is expected to be better value than the first phase of the development which is the cheapest to go into construction so far.
ScottishPower Renewables, owned by Spain's Iberdrola, will need to compete with other projects in an auction to secure a contract which guarantees a set revenue stream through top-up payments from consumer bills.
The first phase of the East Anglia project is the cheapest offshore wind project to be built, but the £119 per megawatt hour deal has nonetheless raised calls for developers to work harder to reduce the burden on bill payers.
The project cost is roughly 30pc higher than EDF’s Hinkley Point C nuclear plant which has attracted fierce criticism for being too expensive to build or support.
But the renewables developer said industry breakthroughs mean that offshore wind prices will fall well below this level to make offshore wind “one of the cheapest forms of low carbon electricity”.
To win the race to the lowest offshore wind costs the company must beat stiff competition from Denmark's Dong Energy which has scaled up the size of its turbine to drive costs down faster.
Keith Anderson, the chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables, said offshore wind has delivered on its promises to reduce costs, which have fallen by a third between 2012 and 2016.
“Our sector has met every technical and political challenge, grown the UK’s supply chain, and improved the technology at a rapid pace to allow projects to be deployed in ever harsher conditions. At the same time, the level of cost reductions achieved would more commonly be seen in consumer electronics,” he said.
The wind giant is also planning to export the technology to the US in what could prove to be a boon for UK plc after winning the right to build two mammoth wind farms off the country’s east coast.
RenewableUK’s Emma Pinchbeck, said the political stamp of approval is a “vote of confidence in the UK’s world-leading offshore wind sector” and could create “thousands of skills jobs throughout its 30-year lifetime”.
Meanwhile, the falling cost of solar and battery technologies is set to power the UK’s largest community energy project near Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire later this year.
Mongoose Energy, a specialist community energy developer, has completed financing on a deal to build three solar farms with a combined capacity of almost 15MW, alongside batteries, to help generate enough electricity to power 4,500 local homes through a new community energy company.
The scheme taps a growing trend towards pairing the two technologies and comes in the wake of fresh government support for battery development and new regulation to help improve their efficiency.
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