The winds of change are blowing

Wind turbine

Standing tall in the Irish Sea – a forest of giant wind turbines marks a real shift in power in the energy sector.

Sitting off the Cumbrian coast Walney Extension, the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm, was officially opened at a ceremony in September.

The 659-megawatt (MW) project, owned by Danish energy giant Ørsted and partners PKA and PFA, is spread over an area of 145 square kilometres.

Its 87 turbines are capable of generating enough green energy to power almost 600,000 UK homes

It is the first wind farm in the world with two turbine types and the infrastructure includes a substation near Heysham next to the National Grid.

Construction of the project was co-ordinated from a base at the port of Barrow, which will now become home to the project’s operations and maintenance team

It already hosts the operating and maintenance teams for three other Ørsted offshore wind farms – Barrow, Walney and West of Duddon Sands.

The operation harnesses the latest technology from two of the world’s leading turbine manufacturers

Walney Extension features 40 MHI Vestas 8MW turbines and a further 47 Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines – with blades manufactured in Hull as well as the Isle of Wight.

The project has also worked with key suppliers from across the UK, supporting the growth of offshore wind “clusters” around the country.

More than 50 local suppliers, from Carlisle to Lancaster, were involved throughout construction.

Matthew Wright, Ørsted UK managing director, says: “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.”

Walney isn’t the only wind-powered developments in the region. The Burbo Bank Extension sits 7km off Liverpool Bay and its 32 turbines are capable of powering more than 230,000 UK homes.

Wind power is also generating economic benefits for the region.  A £6m operations facility on Merseyside serves both the Burbo Bank Extension and the existing Burbo Bank wind farms.

Wright adds: “We’re confident that offshore wind can become the backbone of the UK’s future energy system.

“Offshore wind currently generates over five per cent of UK electricity, which is enough to power more than 4.5 million homes, and this figure is set to double to over 10 per cent in the next two years.

“As well as producing clean energy, the industry is having a positive economic impact.

“Investment in offshore wind is creating new industrial clusters across the UK – supporting thousands of jobs, helping to grow local businesses and to regenerate communities.

“An ever-greater number of UK firms are involved in the development, construction and operation of offshore wind farms – playing a vital part in the industry’s success story and long-term future.”

Energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry says engineering landmarks like Walney Extension or helping he UK consolidate its “global leadership” position.

She adds:  “As part of our modern Industrial Strategy we’ve set out a further £557 million of funding for new renewable projects, helping to tackle climate change and deliver clean growth to local economies.”



  • Walney Extension is the world largest operational offshore wind farm


  • The area it covers is equal to around 20,000 football pitches or almost 10 Windermeres


  • It took more than four million worker hours to construct the wind farm – Around 1,000 vessel trips were made during construction


  • More than 300km of cables were used to connect the turbines offshore to the National Grid onshore


  • Its Turbines are taller than Blackpool Tower (158m), Beetham Tower in Manchester (169m) or twice the height of Big Ben (96m) – One blade rotation is enough to power your home for a day




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