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Plans unveiled to double the size of Race Bank offshore wind farm

Grimsby’s largest offshore wind farm could double in size under plans revealed today

Ørsted has received approval from The Crown Estate to take forward a Race Bank Extension – a move that should it come to fruition would bring further job creation and investment to the town.

The current offshore wind farm, operated from the rapidly expanding East Coast Hub on Royal Dock, was officially opened in June. It is capable of powering more than half a million UK homes from its 573 MW capacity.

The proposed Race Bank Extension project would be located adjacent to the existing wind farm, 17 miles off the Lincolnshire coast. 

While still in the early stages of development, Race Bank Extension could generate another 573 MW of green electricity, taking the town to within touching distance of 8GW.

Matthew Wright, UK managing director for Ørsted, said: “Race Bank Extension is a great addition to our pipeline of development projects in the UK. We already have 11 operational UK offshore wind farms, generating enough green electricity to power over three million homes.

“Offshore wind can be the backbone of our energy system and securing another potential project underlines Ørsted’s continued commitment to the UK’s energy transition.

“The current Race Bank project, featuring the first ever turbine blades to be manufactured in Hull, is already generating enough green electricity for half a million homes, and this extension could add further capacity to our operation on the east coast.”

Race Bank Extension already has financial partners lined up too. It is being brought forward as a joint venture between Ørsted (70 per cent), Green Investment Group (17.5 per cent) and Sumitomo Corporation (12.5 per cent). Both are already stakeholders in Race Bank.

The project will now be subject to a plan level Habitats Regulations Assessment which will look at any possible impact on relevant nature conservation sites of European importance. That will be undertaken by The Crown Estate over the next six to nine months.

Welcoming the announcement, and the potenial of a further boost to the operations and maintenance cluster, Grimsby MP Melanie Onn, said: "Expansion of the wind farm can only mean good news for Grimsby. As the wind farm doubles in size it will need more operatives to build it and then to maintain it in the long term. Hopefully this will mean more opportunities will come to Grimsby people, and is reflective of the commitment Orsted has already made in the local area."

Subject to the outcome, and gaining the necessary consents from Government, construction activities for Race Bank Extension would start after 2020, and it would be included in a future auction for the Contracts for Difference scheme, for which the Danish giant broke all records in September 2017 with Hornsea Project Two.

Orsted already has Westermost Rough operational, has taken over Lincs (developed by Centrica), and is building Hornsea Project One offshore now.  Hornsea Project Two is in early construction, with Hornsea Project Three in the development and consent stage, with a fourth also mooted.

The project, to be developed separately to the existing Race Bank offshore wind farm, will be classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) in its own right under the Planning Act 2008, requiring Secretary of State approval.

The exact size and layout of Race Bank Extension – including the number and size of turbines – is yet to be finalised.

It is the second largest of eight applications adjudged to meet the required criteria by The Crown Estate, adding a further 3.4GW of potential capacity should all be delivered.

The others include East Anglian farms Sheringham Shoal (317MW), Dudgeon (402MW), Greater Gabbard (504MW) and Galloper (353MW) as well as Kent's Thanet (300MW) the South Coast's Rampion (400MW) and the North West's Gwynt y Môr (576MW).

The Crown Estate said agreements for lease could be granted next summer 2019. Successful developers would then commence project specific environmental assessments and seek consent for their projects through the statutory planning process.

In parallel, The Crown Estate continues its work to consider the potential for new offshore wind leasing.

Will Apps, head of energy development at The Crown Estate, said: “It is really positive to see such a strong response to the opportunity for extension projects. In parallel with our Habitats Regulations Assessment, we will continue to work closely with the applicants and our stakeholders to ensure careful consideration of any environmental impacts and existing users of the seabed, ahead of any award of rights.”

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