Thames Estuary Wind farms

The government has a commitment to renewable energy, where they intend that 10% of the U.K.'s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2010. Of this 10%, more than three quarters will come from wind power and more than half of the wind power generated electricity will come from off-shore wind farms (mainly because on-shore, people complained too much!).

There are currently a few trial wind farms around the U.K., but in 2000 the government and the Crown Estate office (that "owns" the Seabed out to the U.K. 12 mile territorial limit) requested that applications be submitted by potential generating companies. This has resulted in what are known as "Round One" and "Round Two" sites. In our area, Scrobie Sands (off Gt. Yarmouth), Gunfleet Sands and the Kentish Flats have gained consents as Round One sites. The Gunfleet Sands (construction due to commence 2009 see Dong Energy 2008 leaflet) and the Kentish Flats (completed and on-line Sept 2005) wind farms will constitute 30 turbines in each, generating around 108MW and 82.5MW respectively. The London Array, which has Round Two consent, will cover Long Sand (from NW of Fisherman's Gat) almost to Long Sand Head, across the Knock Deep and Kentish Knock (Click here for chart) - about 45 square Nautical Miles and contain about 270 turbines generating about 1,000MW, built in 4 phases with a possible construction start date around 2007 and completion 2010/11, Click here to see a plan of the Thames Estuary (125K .pdf).

In addition, there are four other sites in the Thames Estuary that have been granted consent, they are:

  • a small extension to the Gunfleet Sands site
  • a 90 turbine site (Warwick energy) generating 300MW around Drill stone, 9NM ENE of North Foreland
  • at the Greater Gabbard and Galloper sandbanks (about 23NM roughly ESE of Felixstowe, on the way to Goes!) with 140 turbines in total generating around 500MW (Airtricity). Due to commence construction in 2009 and completed in 2010.

Copyright Elsam AS ..............................

Horns Rev, a 160 MW wind farm nearing completion in Denmark

In general, the layout of a wind farm will have turbines between 500m and 700m apart, plus an off-shore transformer which will convert the power to 33kV for transmission over a sub sea cable to a shore sub-station and then into the National Grid. Click here to see a Macromedia flash presentation of a wind farm.

As far as navigational safety goes, the RYA has been active in obtaining a standard height for rotor clearance of 22m above MHWS and the removal of "exclusion zones". Some disruption to Marine VHF has been experienced around the trial sites and an impact is incurred on Radar signals in the area. The RYA has also been active in establishing details of cruising routes and sailing areas in the vicinity of the wind farms for input into the DTI's Strategic Environmental Assessment. To see the RYA information, click here.

So, we should enjoy the last sailing season in the Thames Estuary as we know it and get ready to buy lots of new charts in the coming seasons!

There are a number of resources on the Internet that provide information relating to wind farms and are listed opposite. They are well worth visiting.