Thanet Wind Farm – a milestone of renewable energy (UK)

On Thursday Vattenfall inaugurates Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, the world’s largest offshore wind farm. This is a milestone in the development of renewable energy for a sustainable society. For Vattenfall, it is a springboard to the future – both to the British market and to large-scale offshore wind power.

Only some two years after the inauguration of the 48 turbine 110 MW Lillgrund wind farm in the Sound between Sweden and Denmark in June 2008, Vattenfall is now launching a new 100 turbine 300 MW offshore wind farm in the Channel – an investment of close to SEK 10 billion (EUR 1 billion; GBP 900 millions).

This is an expression not only of the rapid technological development in offshore wind power, but also of Vattenfall’s development strategy, where the U.K. is seen as one of the main future markets for offshore wind power.

In the U.K. there is a broad political unity, formally agreed in 2008, about the plans for sea based wind power, and the windy islands provide a greater potential than any other European country.

Welcome investments

Determined to be part of the planned British wind power expansion, Vattenfall the last few years managed to acquire a number of projects – including Thanet. The acquisition of Thanet provided a substantial organisation as well as a project platform, and Thanet subsequently became a bridgehead for the company’s continued strategy.

When Vattenfall bought Thanet, the project already had all necessary licenses and contracts, but the owners were close to bankruptcy. The project was a key part of “round 2” in the British wind power programme, and it was seen as politically crucial that it came out successfully. As new owners Vattenfall got a very warm welcome – and a fair deal.

The company recruited local staff, but also appointed its own experienced leaders, including Ole Bigum Nielsen, former project manager for the Lillgrund wind farm, which meant a natural transfer of competence. Since early 2010, the former site manager of Lillgrund, Jimmy Hansson, also lives in the U.K.

Thanet lies in sight of Kentish flats, another offshore wind farm owned by Vattenfall, and the two organisations have been merged into one.

Scaling up output

Including Thanet, Vattenfall is producing 25 per cent of the world’s offshore wind power, a small but rapidly developing niche.

The company is building capacity and competence for the next big step – the development of the East Anglia Array, a gigantic offshore wind farm area in the North Sea off the east coast of England, granted jointly to Vattenfall and ScottishPower Renewables as part of The Crown Estate’s Round 3 offshore wind farm programme. Early investigations suggest that East Anglia has the potential to achieve a capacity of approximately 7,200MW with 10 MW turbines.

Meanwhile Vattenfall is building the Ormonde Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea, which will comprise thirty 5 MW turbines. The German project DanTysk, with eighty turbines, has also reached advanced status. Negotiations with suppliers for turbines and other components are going on and an investment proposal will be presented to the Board this autumn.

Vattenfall today fully or partially owns and operates eight off-shore wind farms: three in Sweden, one in Denmark, one in the Netherlands, two in England and one in Germany. Vattenfall’s share of their total production capacity amounts to 690 MW.


Source: vattenfall, September 22, 2010;