U.K. is supersizing its wind farms

Source: By William Mathis, Bloomberg • Posted: Sunday, December 1, 2019

One of the U.K.’s biggest wind farm developers will combine three offshore wind projects into one massive development, making it more likely the venture will move ahead.

The decision by Iberdrola SA’s ScottishPower Renewables means it will consider all the work on a facility with 3.1 gigawatts of capacity as a single project. The East Anglia wind farms would be sited off the eastern coast of England and cost billions of dollars to develop.

Currently, each of the projects was considered on its own merits. By linking them together in terms of planning, ScottishPower Renewables will be able to drive tougher bargains with suppliers, turbine makers and financial backers that would lend money to support the work.

“You have to keep striving to achieve economies of scale,” Jonathan Cole, Iberdrola’s managing director for global offshore wind, said in an interview ahead of an appearance at a conference in Copenhagen this week. “The best way to do that is with supersize projects.”

It’s the latest example of extra-large wind farms leading the way in the country. Such projects are set to play a major role in the energy transition as the U.K. strives to meet its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Turbine suppliers, given the confidence of a major order, could roll out bigger models to suit supersized wind farms, Cole said. That could mean turbines as large as 17 megawatts, Cole said, larger than the biggest model on the market, GE Electric Co.’s 12-megawatt Haliade-X.

Iberdrola lost out on a government auction to sell power from one of the sections of the project earlier this year. The winners in that auction, SSE PLC and Equinor ASA, succeeded with a bid for record-low prices on what’s set to be the biggest wind farm in the world.

As politicians in the U.K.’s Conservative and Labour parties compete for the most ambitious plan to green the country’s economy, Iberdrola expects the government to continue auctions and for the Crown Estate, which manages the seabed, to increase access for wind farm developers. In addition, the East Anglia project could get some support from contracts to sell power to companies.

The company expects construction on its biggest offshore wind farm to begin by 2022 and finish in four years.