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19 June 2015 | by Gabor Chodkowski-Gyurics

World's second biggest offshore wind farm operational

World's second biggest offshore wind farm operational
World’s second biggest offshore wind farm, Gwynt y Môr, was officially launched in Wales on June 18, according to a statement by its owner, RWE. Totaling 160 turbines, placed over 80 square kilometers of the Irish Sea off Wales’ north coast, the farm will generate 567 MW, enough to power about a third of all the households in Wales.

The £2 billion ($3.2 billion) investment is a joint project of RWE Innogy, the renewable energy unit of German utility RWE that holds a 60% stake in the Gwynt y Môr. Another German utility, Stadtwerke München (SWM), owns 30% and Siemens, who supplied the turbines, has the remaining 10%. Back in 2014, UK Green Investment Bank said it will get a 10% share from RWE following project’s completion.

Also on June 18, the UK government announced that new onshore wind farms will not be eligible for support from 1 April 2016, a year earlier than previously expected. The Department of Energy and Climate Change said that a grace period will be provided for those projects, which already have planning permission, during which they will remain eligible for the support.

Many environmental groups in the country saw the decision as political. "While the government rolls out the red carpet for fracking, they're pulling the rug out from under onshore wind,” Friends of the Earth's campaigner Alasdair Cameron told the BBC.

"Proposed changes to the planning system could make it more difficult for local authorities to give the go-ahead to new wind installations - even if it's the local community who want to build and run them,” he also said.

Amber Rudd, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, told business leaders on a meeting in London it was time to shift subsidies from onshore wind to other technologies that needed them more. She did not say what those technologies would be.

The UK is the world’s sixth-largest producer of wind power, according to data from the Global Wind Energy Council. The country has a wind power capacity of nearly 12,700 MW of which about 65% is onshore and 35% is offshore, according to the UK Wind Energy Database. Last year, the UK government paid over £800 million ($1.27 billion) in subsidies to onshore wind farms, which generated around 5% of the country’s total electricity.


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