Did you know that the UK has more offshore wind turbines (that’s wind turbines in the sea, off the shore – geddit?) in its waters than the rest of the world put together? We’ve got nearly 1500 off our coast. By contrast, America only installed their first ones in December.
Not only are those turbines supplying electricity for over 3 million homes every year, they’re setting new records and powering communities around the country. From the boat yards of the Mersey to the beaches of Norfolk, here’s a taste of the ways offshore wind is winning right now.
1. The Boaty McBoatface crew strike again
The good people at Cammell Laird in Merseyside will be building Boaty McBoatface (or the RSS Sir David Attenborough if you prefer). But they’ve also been keeping busy hosting the construction of foundations for nearby wind farms. As you can imagine, foundations are essential to offshore wind turbines - without them the turbines would just blow away! This shipyard has been going for close to 200 years and has built over 1350 ships. But surely this is some of their best work to date?
2. Belfast shipyard avoids that sinking feeling
Harland and Wolff in Belfast will forever be known as the place where the Titanic was built. But these days they’re keeping afloat with contracts to build the giant steel foundations for offshore wind turbines. With Leonardo DiCaprio being such a climate warrior, I’m sure Jack and Rose would approve.
3. Fish, chips and a trip to the turbines
A trip to the seaside an absolute must for millions of us each summer. There’s ice cream, paddling, sunbathing (sometimes!). Bliss. Ramsgate in Kent and Southwold in Suffolk used to draw crowds to see their seal colonies. But now there’s a new attraction: visitors come for boat tours of the wind turbines near the coast!
4. Whisky and wind in Scotland
When you think of a factory manufacturing huge turbine towers, you're probably not thinking of a picturesque town on the Scottish coast. After all, towers - that’s the long bit that makes the wind turbine stand up - can be over 100m tall.
CS Wind in Campbeltown, an area famous for it’s whisky distilleries, has been making the towers for onshore wind turbines for a little while now. And they’ve just signed a deal to supply 50 towers per year.
5. Hope on the Humber
Back in the 1950’s, Grimsby was the busiest fishing port in the world. But over the last decades the fleet has dwindled to just five trawlers. Hopes are high that offshore wind can breath life back into the docks, with £20 million already invested in improving infrastructure. Servicing the offshore wind turbines at five nearby wind farms has already created 1500 jobs, including some very cool helicopter technicians.
And just over the estuary in Hull, there’s a new factory making the monster blades (the spinning bits) for new turbines. They’re 75m long - which is longer than the wingspan of a Boeing 747. They’ll be 1,000 new jobs created once it’s at full capacity.
6. Keeping the record keepers busy
The London Array claimed the current record for the world’s biggest offshore wind farm in 2013 (630MW). But the record keepers need to stay on their toes. The Hornsea Two site in the North Sea is looking to steal the crown. The wind farm got the go ahead in August – and once it’s all built it’ll have a whopping 1.8GW of capacity. That’s three times the size of the London Array and enough electricity to power 1.6 million homes.
The UK is also home to the world’s biggest offshore turbines, the 8MW giants installed off the coast of Liverpool. They’re taller than two big bens, and the blades sweep around an area bigger than the London Eye!
Ok, fine, it’s not as exciting as the record for the world’s tallest and shortest dog - but it’s still pretty cool.
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