World’s largest offshore wind farm opens in Cumbria

The world’s largest operational offshore wind farm, Walney Extension off the Cumbria coast, was officially opened on Thursday at a ceremony in Barrow.

The 659MW project, owned by Danish energy giant Ørsted (50%) and its partners, the Danish pension funds PKA (25%) and PFA (25%), leapfrogs London Array to become the world’s largest operational wind farm.

Walney Extension’s 87 wind turbines can generate enough green energy to power almost 600,000 UK homes.

Covering an area of 145km2 in the Irish Sea, the project becomes Ørsted’s eleventh operational offshore wind farm in the UK.

Utilising the latest technology from two of the world’s leading turbine manufacturers, Walney Extension features 47 MHI Vestas 8MW wind turbines and a further 40 Siemens Gamesa 7MW wind turbines.

Construction of Walney Extension was co-ordinated from Ørsted’s west coast hub at the Port of Barrow, which will now become home to the project’s operations and maintenance team.

The west coast hub also services three further Ørsted offshore wind farms — Barrow, Walney and West of Duddon Sands.

The completion of Walney Extension brings Ørsted’s total capacity operating out of Barrow up to 1.5GW.

Ørsted’s ongoing operations and maintenance activities will support more than 250 direct jobs in the area.

Matthew Wright, Ørsted UK managing director, said: “The UK is the global leader in offshore wind and Walney Extension showcases the industry’s incredible success story.

“The project, completed on time and within budget, also marks another important step towards Ørsted’s vision of a world that runs entirely on green energy.

“The North-West region plays an important role in our UK offshore wind operations and our aim is to make a lasting and positive impact here.

“We want to ensure that the local community becomes an integral part of the renewable energy revolution that’s happening along its coastline.”

Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO at PKA, said: “We’re proud to participate in the opening of the world’s largest offshore wind farm to date, and to supply over half a million UK homes with green power.

“Walney Extension is our sixth investment in wind farms since 2011, and is yet another important contribution to PKA’s ambitious climate strategy in which we continuously work to create good returns to our members while at the same time making a positive difference for the climate.”

Henrik Nøhr Poulsen, executive director responsible for equities and alternative investments at PFA, said: “At PFA, we’re very happy to be a part of this great project, together with Ørsted and PKA, which is a milestone in the market of renewable energy and an important contribution towards the green transition.

“It’s an historic event and the largest renewable investment ever made by PFA.

“The Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm investment represents a considerable extension of our portfolio of alternative investments and fits perfectly into our strategic focus on providing our customers with reliable and stable long-term returns.”