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East Anglian offshore windfarm given government go-ahead

The UK government has given the green light for a major offshore windfarm project in East Anglia which could provide up to 1,800 megawatts of output capacity.08 Aug 2017

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has given planning consent for ScottishPower Renewables' East Anglia Three project, which will allow the installation up to 172 turbines as high as 247 metres, 69 kilometres off the Norfolk coast.

When running at full capacity the windfarm could supply energy for nearly one million households.

ScottishPower Renewables must now enter the project into a Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction process, where the most economic projects are selected to receive a contract. The company is hoping to begin construction in 2022 with completion slated for 2025.

CfDs replace the previous direct subsidy regime for renewable electricity generation, and provide guaranteed payments to operators of approved renewable generation technology. The UK government previously outlined its intention to focus CfD support on areas such as offshore wind.

Energy expert Gareth Phillips of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "The green light for East Anglia Three is not only a victory for developers leading the charge for UK renewables, it’s also a victory for the energy industry as a whole which is grappling with dwindling domestic supply."

"No doubt many developers will breathe a sigh of relief at today’s decision, as consents for many large scale energy projects have suffered delays prompted by the recent general election and Brexit negotiations," said Phillips. "Approval today underscores commitment from the government in UK renewables and should encourage investment into the industry. This will be critical if the UK is to successfully boost the security of supply of clean power in the UK."

"While the political backdrop has proved challenging in recent months, these are exciting times for UK renewables. This wind farm is not the end of the story. Given there are additional East Anglia Zone and Hornsea Zone projects making their way through the consenting process, the offshore wind industry looks set to grow at a rapid pace over the next couple of years," Phillips said.

"Given our need to safeguard domestic supply, this growth will be crucial to the future of the UK energy industry," he said.