Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) is to proceed with construction of what is likely to be the world’s largest offshore wind farm at the time of completion and has signed agreements for installation and equipment supply.

SSE has signed a contract with Fluor Corporation to design and construct the 500 MW Greater Gabbard array. Siemens has the contract to supply 140 turbines for the project.

Greater Gabbard will be located 25 km off the Suffolk coast in the outer Thames estuary. It will be commissioned in two phases, with the entire construction scheduled for completion in 2011.

The project will be the first UK wind farm to be built outside territorial waters and will play a major role in plans to expand renewable energy generation in the country. It also forms part of SSE’s plans to continue its growth in the renewable energy market.

The UK wants to respond to climate change and become more self-sufficient in energy, so it makes sense to exploit the excellent

resource that UK offshore wind represents’ said Ian Marchant, CEO of SSE. ‘Greater Gabbard will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world and gives SSE the opportunity to build a significant share of the UK’s offshore wind market.’

SSE has also agreed to purchase Fluor’s 50 % stake in the project for £40 million in cash. The utility, which became involved in the project through its purchase of renewable energy company Airtricity, intends to sell 50 % of the project equity later this year.

The wind farm is expected to have a load factor of over 40 %, based on site-specific met mast data collected since 2005, says SSE. The development will require an investment of £1.3 billion.

The wind farm site covers two offshore areas, Inner Gabbard and The Galloper. The 140 turbines will be mounted on steel monopiles and transition pieces, in water depths of between 24 and 34 m.

Three 132 kV sub-sea cables will bring the power ashore to a new substation to be built near the site of the Sizewell power plant.

Siemens will supply SSE with 140 of its 3.6 MW type SWT-3.6-107 wind turbines for the project, with delivery in 2009 and 2010. They will be mounted on steel monopiles, in water with depths between 24 and 34 m. The contract includes a five year service and maintenance agreement.

Construction work is scheduled to commence offshore in summer 2009, with work to prepare the site for the onshore substation already underway.

‘This investment in Greater Gabbard is very welcome and a prime example of the increasing number of renewable projects that are now taking place across the UK’ said John Hutton, UK Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. ‘The massive potential of the UK shoreline coupled with the right market conditions mean the UK is one of the most attractive places in the world to invest in offshore technology.’

Covering 625 square miles of Texas

Mesa Power of the USA has placed an order with GE Energy to purchase 667 wind turbines for what will ultimately be the world’s largest wind energy project, and also, it is thought, the world’s largest single-site wind turbine purchase order.

They are to be delivered for the first phase of the Pampa wind project, which will eventually have an installed capacity of 4000 MW and cover some 400 000 acres (625 square miles) in the Texas Panhandle. When complete in 2014, the four-phase project will be five times as large as the USA’s current largest wind power plant. GE will deliver its 1.5 MW turbines during 2010 and 2011.

Mesa Power, founded by energy executive T. Boone Pickens, expects the first units to start operating in 2011. It believes that large-scale renewable energy projects will help the US to become less dependent on foreign oil.

‘The development of alternative energy projects, especially renewable resources such as wind power, is critical for the future of the country in the face of declining world oil resources’ said Pickens.

The first phase of the project will cost an estimated $2 billion. Mesa Power hopes that the project will benefit from Federal Production Tax Credits in 2010 and 2011. ‘I believe that Congress will recognise that it is critical not only to this project, but to renewable energy in this country, that they enact a long-term extension of the PTCs’ Pickens said.

Mesa Power has leased land in four counties across Texas for the project and will pay an annual royalty to landowners for turbines operating on their property. It believes that the project will provide an economic boost to the region, which has suffered in recent times from rising unemployment and falling house prices.