Queen Elizabeth Buys World's Largest Offshore Wind Turbine

ABERDEEN, Scotland, May 22, 2008 (ENS) – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is investing in the world’s largest offshore wind turbine and also in the development of offshore windfarms in Scottish waters, her property company The Crown Estate announced on Wednesday.

On April 17, The Crown Estate signed an agreement to purchase a prototype of the world’s largest offshore wind turbine, Clipper’s 7.5 megawatt MBE turbine. Known as the Britannia project, the turbine will be built by California energy company Clipper Windpower.

Offshore wind projects such as the $65 million Britannia project will advance industry technology in line with the forecasted upsurge in European offshore wind development in 2011 and 2012.

One of the wind turbines at the Blyth
Harbor offshore wind development
(Photo by Ian Britton courtesy

The Clipper MBE prototype turbine will be assembled and tested at Clipper’s Centre of Excellence for Offshore Wind in Blyth in northeast England, where an offshore windfarm made up of smaller turbines is already generating power.

The giant turbine is to be operational by 2010 and all the power it generates will be sold to the national grid. With a 30 year design life, it will generate electricity equivalent of one million barrels of oil.

In addition, the Queen’s property company is setting the rules for developers to harness the winds that blow across Scottish waters.

At the All Energy Conference in Aberdeen on Wednesday, The Crown Estate announced the procedure for offshore windfarm development within Scottish territorial waters.

Rob Hastings, director of marine estates at The Crown Estate, said in Aberdeen, “This announcement to launch Scottish offshore wind clearly demonstrates The Crown Estate’s commitment to facilitating the next phase of offshore wind energy development in Scotland. We have listened to the requests from developers in the industry and are delighted to be working closely with the Scottish government in taking this forward.”

The marine interests of The Crown Estate include almost the entire UK territorial seabed out to 12 nautical miles and around 55 percent of the UK’s coastal foreshore.

In addition, The Crown Estate has the rights to lease seabed for the generation of renewable energy on the continental shelf within the Renewable Energy Zone which extends out to 200 nautical miles.

Now, The Crown Estate is asking for initial expressions of interest from companies wishing to be considered for developing commercial scale windfarms in Scottish territorial waters.

Companies or consortia wishing to be considered must submit registration details electronically by 12:00 noon on June 23, 2008 to: scottish.windfarms@thecrownestate.co.uk

Following this, registered companies and consortia will be invited to submit project proposals for consideration and given three months to prepare and submit their proposals.

Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables Jason Ormiston told the Aberdeen conference participants, “”We are pleased The Crown Estate is now providing some certainty for developers who are keen to invest hundreds of millions of pounds if they can get the rights to develop.”

“Offshore wind in Scottish waters – whether it is in deep or shallow water – offers exceptional potential to help deliver action on climate change and help secure affordable supplies of electricity, and the industry is keen to see government and The Crown Estate help deliver it as quickly as possible,” he said.

Speaking at the conference, Energy Minister Jim Mather said, “Offshore wind can play a vital role in Scotland’s renewable future. We want to see more offshore turbines in appropriate locations around the Scottish coast, meaning that licenses for individual sites is a key issue. This is an area where we have been working closely with The Crown Estate. So I am delighted about this very positive announcement on offshore leasing.”

Britain is developing a number of offshore wind projects. On Friday, The Crown Estate announced that the site lease for the Greater Gabbard offshore windfarm in the Thames Estuary was completed.

The Greater Gabbard windfarm project is located 26 kilometers from the Suffolk coast, adjacent to the Inner Gabbard and Galloper sand banks.

The windfarm will consist of 140 wind turbines with an overall generation capacity of 504 megawatts, sufficient to power over 415,500 homes. Subsea cables landing at Sizewell near Leiston in Suffolk will export the power that is generated.

It is the first lease to include seabed outside of territorial waters in the UK’s renewable energy zone. Offshore construction will begin during 2009.

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