Plans to build a 300 turbine wind farm at Triton Knoll 20 miles off the Lincolnshire coast have been scaled back by as much as 50% by developer RWE Npower Renewables.
The original £3.6Bn project was hailed as the world's biggest offshore wind farm when it was given the go ahead by the Department for Energy and Climate Change in July 2013 but RWE says it will now build capacity for between 600 and 900 megawatts rather than the original 1200 maximum. Original plans meant that the development would create 500 UK jobs during construction and up to 325 UK jobs during operation.
In November RWE cancelled the technically challenging £4Bn Atlantic Array wind farm off the Bristol Channel, a decision which was blamed at the time partly on government giving mixed signals about its support for offshore wind developments. RWE is Germany's second largest utility operator, behind EON SE. German utility operators have been taking actions to bolster their balance sheets after sharp falls in wholesale electricity prices that have made many German power plants unprofitable.
The original design for Triton Knoll envisaged a maximum of 288 turbines being installed, up to 220 metres in height. RWE says the new capacity wind farm would still be able to produce enough energy for between 550,000 and 8000,000 households.
The project is designed as two packages, one for the offshore array and one for the electrical system which includes a substation, underground cables and an onshore electrical compound. The new design reduces the footprint of the onshore substation by 50% and an intermediate electrical compound by 40%.
Some £18 million has already been invested in the project, says RWE, and a substantial proportion of contracts associated with the development will still be placed with UK companies.
RWE says the revised design will ensure that the efficiency and utilisation of the site is maximised. Project Manager Jacob Hain said: “The recent optimisation work is part of a project review to make the site more competitive and more economic in line with Government proposals to bring down the cost of offshore wind.”