Search to reduce wind farm costs starts in Essex

A MASSIVE new wind farm being built just five miles off the Essex coast has been used as the location for the launch of a multi-million pound global competition.

James Hore

A MASSIVE new wind farm being built just five miles off the Essex coast has been used as the location for the launch of a multi-million pound global competition.

The Carbon Trust yesterday launched its competition to cut the cost of offshore wind energy by finding the best designs for the foundations of the next generation of offshore wind farms.

Gunfleet Sands is currently being constructed off the coast of Clacton and when it is complete it will be home to 48 wind turbines producing enough energy for 120,000 homes, or about 20% of the households in Essex.


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It is the third largest wind farm currently under construction in the UK and the first electricity is due to be produced later this year with the wind farm set to reach its full production rates next year.

Yesterday the Carbon Trust launched its competition with a boat trip out to Gunfleet Sands and its 420ft turbines.

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The Carbon Trust's competition aims to find designs for deeper sea water conditions to be used in large scale, at sea, demonstration projects in 2010-2012.

The trust's aim is to deliver cost reductions of 30% compared to the existing foundations used in deeper water.

The existing offshore wind farms and those under construction are based on designs for installations close to shore in shallower waters.

Launching the competition Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: “Offshore wind is an important part of our low-carbon future. We need low-carbon, secure energy supplies to ensure we meet our climate change goals.”

Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust, said: “This global competition is an opportunity for the very best designers to contribute to the future of this essential new industry.”

Foundations are a key component of offshore wind turbines and, particularly in deep water, can account for up to 20% of project costs.

Entries will be sought from across the world from those including engineers, designers, academics and research institutes.

Each design will be assessed by a panel of judges with shortlisted entries receiving up to �100,000.

The final winners will have their designs built and installed with funding from a consortium including the Carbon Trust.

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