Skip to content

Arranged in formation like an advancing army, this is the world’s biggest offshore wind farm. The array of more than 100 giant turbines towering over the North Sea will be switched on today off the coast of Kent.

The Thanet farm will be able to generate up to 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to power a small city – but only if the wind is strong enough.

Enlarge Impressive sight: There are more than 100 giant turbines in the Thanet wind farm

Impressive sight: There are more than 100 giant turbines in the Thanet wind farm


It means that Britain is now the biggest offshore wind generator in the world, producing more electricity from sea-based turbines than the rest of the globe put together.

According to the wind industry, the UK’s wind farms now have a capacity of 5 gigawatts (GW) or enough power for nearly three million homes. 


The creation of the monster farm is part of the Government’s ‘dash for wind’ – a massive expansion of green energy planned over the next decade which will see around 10,000 new turbines going up at sea and across the country.


The Government claims the wind farms are needed to slash greenhouse gas emissions from coal, oil and gas-fired power stations and meet Europe’s tough climate change targets.

To meet the targets, the UK will have to generate around a third of its electricity from renewables – such as wind, wave and wood-burning – by 2020. 


However, critics say the expansion is costly and that the UK will become too dependent on the variable power of the wind. 


While the last government enthusiastically embraced wind power, critics say it will fulfil barely a fraction of Britain’s energy needs – and at a huge cost. They also argue that huge wind turbines are a scar on Britain’s landscape, even when sited a few miles out to sea. 


Dr Benny Peiser of the sceptical Global Warming Policy Foundation think-tank said: ‘It’s a complete waste of money. It costs three times as much to generate electricity from offshore wind and the cost is passed to taxpayers and in fuel bills. 


‘And you need to back up wind farms with fossil fuel power stations when there’s no wind blowing. 


‘Economically it doesn’t make sense and the savings in carbon emissions are not as great as their supporters claim.’ 


But a spokesman for the wind industry association RenewableUK said: ‘Five gigawatts is an important milestone. 


‘Renewable energy generally and wind energy in particular is not alternative energy any longer – it is absolutely mainstream.’ 


The Thanet Offshore Wind Farm lies 7.5miles off Foreness Point, Margate, and will be visible from the coast on a clear day. 


Swedish energy giant Vattenfall – which spent £780million on the array – refuses to say how long it will take for the farm to pay for itself.


Full story