The government has given the go-ahead for a pair of wind farms to be built off the Norfolk coast, which could provide power to some 730,000 homes in the UK.
The farms, at Race Bank and Dudgeon, boast a total capacity of well over 1 gigawatt (GW), and will cost around £3 billion to construct.
The developments ramp up the amount of operational, under construction or consented offshore wind projects in the UK to 6.6GW.
Energy minister Charles Hendry said, “The UK is racing ahead of the global field and these two new offshore wind farms underline this momentum.
“These two projects will not only bring us considerable amounts of clean energy, but significant investment and jobs too.”
Centrica will develop the 580 megawatt (MW) farm at Race Banks, whilst the 560MW project at Dudgeon is being run by Warwick Energy.
A third farm at Docking Shoal, similar to the pair that have been approved, was refused planning permission because of its likelihood of impacting heavily on the Sandwich Tern species of seabird.
Nevertheless, the approval of an extra 1GW of offshore wind capacity is a positive step forward by government, as it looks to capitalise on the vast offshore resources the UK possesses in the shape of the North Sea.
The announcement builds on an encouraging report by the Centre for Economics & Business Research from last month, which highlighted the massive rewards the offshore wind industry could bring in today’s difficult economic times.
Current estimates claim that the sector will increase UK GDP by 0.2% and create 45,000 jobs by 2015 – figures that will rise to 0.6% and 173,000 respectively by 2030. This is on top of delivering an expected increase in net exports by £18.8 billion – enough to fill 75% of the UK’s current balance of trade deficit.
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