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World's biggest offshore wind farm to be constructed off the coast of England

With a cumulative capacity of 5,061 megawatts, the United Kingdom remained the world leader in offshore wind energy in 2015, according to figures from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

Now, with countries like Germany making significant advancements in offshore wind, the UK is looking to bolster its lead by adding the world's world's biggest wind farm to its stable.

In February, Denmark-based DONG Energy announced plans to develop the project off the seaside village of Hornsea, located in Yorkshire, England. The company said it will have a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, making it the first offshore wind farm to exceed 1,000 megawatts in capacity.

The Hornsea Project One offshore wind farm is expected to be able to provide power to well over one million homes and will be fully commissioned by 2020, the company said. Construction is expected to begin in late 2016 or early 2017.

"To have the world's biggest ever offshore wind farm located off the Yorkshire coast is hugely significant and highlights the vital role offshore wind will play in the UK's need for new low-carbon energy," Brent Cheshire, DONG Energy's U.K. Country Chairman said in a statement.

Hornsea Project One will be built 75 miles (120 km) off the Yorkshire coast in the North Sea and cover approximately 157 square miles (407 square km), the company said. It will comprise up to 240 turbines, with each one 623 feet (190 meters) in height.

Over 91 percent of the world's total offshore wind power is currently installed in northern Europe, according to the GWEC. While the UK still has the most total installed capacity, Germany led all European nations in 2015 by adding 2,282 megawatts.

According to a report produced by the UK Met office, which analyzed the windiest locations in Europe in 2014, the North Sea was rated first, followed by the Baltic region, Denmark, the British Isles and Benelux.

What's important for wind energy is not necessarily the speed, but the persistence of the wind, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews said.

"That means that the turbines are going to be spinning at a productive rate for a significant fraction of the time," Andrews said.

DONG Energy, which already operates six wind farms in the UK, is also making headway in the United States. The firm recently agreed to take over the U.S. offshore wind development lease from RES Americas for a project off the coast of New Jersey. It also has a lease permitting it to build in Massachusetts waters.

The U.S. does not currently have any operational offshore wind farms, but that is expected to change later this year when the Block Island Wind Farm is christened off the coast of Rhode Island. Developer Deepwater Wind plans to have it operational and generating power by the fourth quarter of 2016.


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kevin Byrne at Kevin.Byrne@accuweather.com, follow him on Twitter at @Accu_Kevin. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook.