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Ørsted has announced that Walney Extension, the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm, has been officially opened. The 659 MW project is 50% owned by Ørsted, with the remaining share owned by the Danish pension funds PKA (25%) and PFA (25%).
Walney Extension consists of 47 MHI Vestas 8 MW wind turbines and 40 Siemens Gamesa 7 MW wind turbines, which altogether generate enough green energy to power almost 600,000 UK homes. It is the first project to use wind turbines from two different manufacturers.
Construction began in early 2017, with both offshore substations in place by June. Turbine installation was completed in April 2018, though the first turbine was connected to the UK grid in September 2017.
The opening ceremony was held in Barrow in the north-west of England, as construction of Walney Extension was co-ordinated from Ørsted’s hub at the Port of Barrow, which will now become home to the project’s operations and maintenance team.
The wind farm itself is located 19km off the coast of Walney Island, which is separated from mainland Barrow by Walney Channel. The 87 turbines cover an area of 145km2 in the Irish Sea.
Walney Extension will not be the world's largest operational wind farm for long. Earlier this week, the Triton Knoll project, which involves the development of an 860 MW wind farm off the coast of Lincolnshire, east-central England, reached financial close. Construction is due to commence this month, with commissioning scheduled to begin in 2021.
Furthermore, in 2020, the 714 MW East Anglia ONE wind farm is expected to commence operations. Currently in construction, the project is owned by ScottishPower Renewables and is located in the North Sea, off the coast of the East Anglia region of England.
It is likely that within the decade, the UK will lose its status as the home of the world's largest operational wind farm. Multi-gigawatt offshore wind farms are currently being developed in Australia, China, India, Taiwan and the USA.