Hornsea 2, the world’s largest offshore windfarm, became operational last week. Only 55 miles off the Yorkshire Coast, and covering an offshore area of 462km², Hornsea 2 will generate enough energy to power more than 1.3 million homes.
This marks a pivotal shift in the UK’s drive for renewable energy and with renewable energy accounting for more than 43% of the UK’s total generated electricity in 2020, the divestment away from fossil fuels continues.
The site has a capacity of over 1.3GW and with 1GW equating to 1,000MWH, this is a substantial step forward. 1MWH equates to 1,000KWH, which will meet the electricity needs of an average UK home for around three months. With energy dependency being more of a political concern, owing to the actions of Russia shutting off Nord Stream 2 and their invasion of Ukraine, the UK now needs to meet its own electricity and energy needs in a way that meets its net zero promises.
What are the benefits to Yorkshire?
The Danish company Ørsted, which is the developer of the Hornsea sites, claims that Yorkshire and the UK will benefit from the creation of these windfarms in other ways apart from energy dependency. They state that:
“Ørsted is committed to investing in the Humber region and supporting education and employment creation. We have developed an employment and skills plan to highlight employment and supply chain opportunities associated with the construction, operation and maintenance of an offshore wind farm project. We are also investing £10 million to build our largest offshore wind operations base in Grimsby, the East Coast Hub.”
A spokesperson said that, “the company has invested more than £45 million directly into local community, education, and skills development in the Yorkshire & Humber region to date”.
With Ørsted having 13 operational offshore windfarms, providing 6.2GW of renewable electricity for the UK, enough to power more than seven million homes, the company is undoubtedly proud of its role in developing the Hornsea Zone and its role in being a part of the UK’s journey in offshore wind usage.
Response to completion
Patrick Harnett, vice president UK programme, Ørsted, said: “This project has been an amazing endeavour. To build the world’s largest offshore windfarm during a global pandemic has been a challenge that the team have overcome with flying colours. I am so proud of how our team has worked together to safely deliver this remarkable project. A huge thank you to all those involved in making it happen.”
Duncan Clark, head of region UK at Ørsted, commented that, “The UK is truly a world leader in offshore wind and the completion of Hornsea 2 is a tremendous milestone for the offshore wind industry, not just in the UK but globally. Current global events highlight more than ever the importance of landmark renewable energy projects like Hornsea 2, helping the UK increase the security and resilience of our energy supply and drive down costs for consumers by reducing our dependence on expensive fossil fuels”.
Future of offshore wind
Hornsea’s status of being the world’s largest offshore windfarm may not last too long though. Further north, the Dogger Bank site will become operational next year, with the capacity to power six million homes. In July 2022, Ørsted was awarded the contract to develop Hornsea 3, slightly further east of Hornsea 2. It is projected that when this is completed within the next five years, this will generate enough clean renewable power for 3.2 million UK homes. Ørsted is also looking at developing Hornsea 4, with a further 180 turbines, but is currently in dispute with BP, as both companies have secured the overlapping rights to an area of seabed off the Yorkshire coast.
The energy crisis
The continuing energy crisis is set to deepen with rival companies looking to promote and develop their own interests, with the UK Government being the arbiters.
As Carbon Brief reported last month however, the record-low price for UK offshore wind is nine times cheaper than gas.
Any talk then from UK politicians to approve more oil drilling, such as the announcement last week from Liz Truss, will do little to reduce UK customers’ energy bills. As Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace commented, “Unleashing a North Sea drilling frenzy isn’t a plan to help bill payers but a gift to the fossil fuel giants already making billions from this crisis”.