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Installing North Hoyle - the UK's first offshore commercial wind power project



In the last two decades the UK has invested seriously in wind power, ultimately becoming a world leader with the largest capacity of offshore wind power generation on the planet. But every lead has to start somewhere and for the UK that start came in 2003 when the first commercial offshore wind farm went online off the coast of North Wales. 

The North Hoyle wind farm is the UK’s first major offshore renewable power project, having formed part of the UK’s Round 1 of developments launched in 1998 by the British Wind Energy Association (now RenewableUK) and the government. Round 1 was a series of “development” farms designed to give developers a chance to gain technical and environmental experience in order to understand the potential for future wind power projects. 

Round 1 developments were limited to a coverage of 10km with a maximum of 30 turbines. North Hoyle was the first to come online, followed by twelve others. 

The UK already had a long history with the potential for wind power, with the first electricity generating wind turbine having been invented by James Blyth at his home in Marykirk, Scotland in 1887. His name would be used for the first “demonstration” offshore wind development, when two Vestas wind turbines with a 2MW capacity were installed off the coast of Northumberland in 2000. 

But commercial wind power wouldn’t begin until the Round 1 developments, starting with North Hoyle.

Based 7.5km off the Welsh coast, between the towns of Rhyl and Prestatyn, North Hoyle covered an area of 10 square km (3.9 square miles) and comprised of 30 Vestas V80 offshore turbines. 

Each turbine is rated at 2MW capacity, giving the farm a maximum project output of 60MW. 

When installed North Hoyle was the most powerful wind farm in the UK, proving the concept and benefits of offshore installations. The farm provided enough electricity to power 50,000 homes each year.

Today, North Hoyle is still in operation, providing renewable energy to UK homes. Its legacy is as a success that spurred the installation of many more, much larger offshore wind farms with hundreds of turbines. As of August 2020 the UK’s offshore wind industry has a total capacity of 10,415MW - a massive growth in just 17 years from that first commercial success.

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Installing North Hoyle - the UK's first offshore commercial wind power project - Time to read 3 min
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