The Government has given the green light for an offshore wind farm that could meet the power needs of 890,000 homes.
Planning consent has been granted for the East Anglia Three offshore wind farm, located more than 40 miles off the coast of Suffolk, which will have up to 172 huge wind turbines to generate electricity.
The 1.2 gigawatt (GW) wind farm is one of four being developed by ScottishPower Renewables off the coast of East Anglia, and the second to receive planning permission.
ScottishPower Renewables said wind turbines installed at the site could be up to 12 megawatts (MW), bigger than the largest turbines currently available.
The green light for the new wind farm was welcomed by industry body RenewableUK, whose executive director Emma Pinchbeck said it was a “vote of confidence in the UK’s world-leading offshore wind sector”.
“This huge clean energy project is a great example of how offshore wind can enable the Government’s industrial strategy.
“The project is expected to create thousands of skilled jobs throughout its 30-year lifetime.
“Not only will the wind farm use the latest, innovative turbines, but it will also provide a massive boost for local businesses to grow.”
A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) spokesman said: “The UK is the third-best country in the world at tackling climate change and we’ve been clear in our commitment to supporting renewable energy through our ambitious industrial strategy and smart systems plan.
“The East Anglia Three Offshore Wind Farm will unlock significant economic benefits through the UK supply chain and create jobs while helping to reduce our emissions.”
The “next generation” turbines could be as much as 247 metres high (810ft), some two and a half times the size of Big Ben, ScottishPower Renewables said.
New bigger turbines will help ensure offshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of low carbon electricity, the company said.
If the project successfully secures subsidies under the “contracts for difference” auction programme, which provides support for the most economic schemes, construction is likely to start around 2022, with the wind farm up and running by 2025.
Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Offshore wind has delivered on its promises from the outset.
“Our sector has met every technical and political challenge, grown the UK’s supply chain and improved the technology at a rapid pace to allow projects to be deployed in ever harsher conditions.
“At the same time, the level of cost reductions achieved would more commonly be seen in consumer electronics.
“In a little over a decade, our sector has delivered substantial amounts of green electricity for the UK, supported billions of pounds of UK investment and created thousands of high quality jobs.”
Will Apps, head of energy development at The Crown Estate, said the UK now benefited from a strong development pipeline of more than 11GW of consented offshore wind, in addition to projects that are already built or on track to supply 10% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2020.