Off the coast of Liverpool, a new wind farm features the largest wind turbines that the market has to offer. Most wind farms currently consist of turbines in the 1 - 4 MW range, but this latest offshore installation, the Burbo Bank extension, shows off impressive 8-MW turbines from Dong Energy.
The massive turbines are 195-meters tall and this project is the first time they've been used commercially anywhere in the world. The wind farm features 32 of the hulking turbines, each dwarfing the London's Gherkin skyscraper in height and with blades longer than nine London buses.
The new installation is an addition to the original Burbo Bank wind farm that was completed 10 years ago and has only half the capacity of the new project because of the smaller turbines available at that time. The tide is changing with new offshore wind farms starting to use larger and larger turbines. In fact, most of the 16 planned projects for offshore wind in the UK will use turbines that have at least an 8-MW capacity.
Using the larger turbines allows developers to use fewer of them while still achieving large energy capacities. This brings down costs because fewer turbines require less supporting infrastructure like the large foundations they sit on and the cables that connect them to nearby substations. The cost of maintenance also goes down when there are fewer turbines to maintain.
The UK is scaling up its offshore wind power quickly. It's already the world's leader with a capacity of 5.3 GW, which produce enough electricity to power 4.3 million homes. There are eight projects currently under construction that will add another 50 percent of that capacity and even more that have been green-lighted for the future.