David Cameron joined energy secretary Ed Davey and energy minister Greg Barker on Thursday to open London Array – the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
The project, which energy giant E.ON says could “displace 1.9m tonnes of carbon emissions each year”, was born in 2001 and has taken 12 years to complete.
It lies off the coast of Kent and Essex in the outer Thames estuary, and has been leased by the Crown Estate for a period of 50 years to London Array Ltd.
The project is backed by a number of other large energy firms including DONG Energy and Masdar, who along with E.ON invested £1.5 billion into the construction of the farm.
Speaking at the opening of London Array, the prime minister praised the efforts of all those involved in the project.
“First of all it’s a huge win for Kent”, he said.
“This project has been built by some of the bravest seaman, some of the most talented engineers, some of the hardest workers, and it’s going to continue to bring benefits to people in Kent for many, many years to come.”
Cameron added, “What the London Array shows – powering half a million homes, the biggest offshore wind farm anywhere in the world – it absolutely shows that you can do scale renewables and you can do them right here in Britain.”
Jenny Banks, energy and climate specialist at WWF-UK, said, “The UK is ideally suited to becoming a world leader in this technology with a recent report showing that offshore wind could boost the UK economy by £20 billion.
“It’s important that the government puts the right policies in place to send clear signals to companies like Siemens, which wants to invest in offshore wind manufacturing plant in Hull, that the UK is open for business.”
The site was chosen for its suitability in ground conditions, low water depths and high wind speeds. Experts believe that the London Array is capable of powering between 500,000 and 750,000 homes across Kent and the south-east.