The East Anglia THREE offshore wind farm has been granted planning permission by Business Secretary, Greg Clarke. It is the second Scottish Power Renewables project in the area to obtain planning approval. The windfarm will consist of 172 “next generation” wind turbines, which stand up to 247 meters tall. The taller turbines are more efficient because they can capture stronger winds that are higher in the sky. It is planned that the project will have a capacity of 1,200 MW and cover an area of 305 km2. Construction is expected to commence around 2022, but the project must first enter the Contracts for Differences (CfD) auction to gain financial support. The auction scheme enables developers to bid for a contract that commits the government to paying the difference between an agreed strike price and the wholesale price of electricity, thereby providing income certainty.
This year’s auction has a budget of £290m for “pot 2” technologies such as wave and tidal stream and offshore wind. Offshore wind is expected to supply 10% of electricity supply by 2020, but statistics show that, to date, onshore wind has been developed faster than offshore wind. In the first quarter of 2017, just 5.4% of electricity was generated from offshore wind while 8.3% came from onshore. Lower wind speeds in the early part of the year meant that output from offshore wind fell, but a 20% increase in onshore capacity offset the lower wind speeds.
It is expected that offshore wind will do well in this year’s CfD round because technology costs have fallen significantly in recent years. If successful at auction, it is planned that East Anglia THREE will be operating by 2025. It is one of four projects that Scottish Renewables is developing in the area, which have a combined capacity of 3,500 MW. East Anglia ONE is already under construction, having successfully gained support at auction in 2015 with a price of £119/MWh; one of the most economical projects to be funded so far. The clearing price at the next auction is expected to be lower and, if this is the case, it will be welcomed by the Government as it seeks to control the policy costs being passed through to consumers’ energy bills. Further information on the contribution from offshore wind can be found via the offshore wind electricity map, from the Crown Estate, which shows real-time generation and the contribution of each wind farm.