2010?s ten largest renewables project

Continuing Bellona’s overview of 2010’s most important trends in global renewable energy – started in a January 10 article on green energy’s most successful champions, as well as the highlights and disappointments seen in this sector last year – is this digest of 2010’s largest renewable energy projects

Both construction and commissioning of new power plants based on renewable sources have made an encouraging progress globally, despite the ongoing economic downturn. The European Union is the undisputed leader here – to date it has been predominantly in European countries that sturdy commitment to developing green energy sources has produced most tangible results. It is all the more disappointing that Russia does not yet find itself among countries that experts worldwide mention in their reports on the use of alternative energy sources in recent years.

Offshore wind power parks

Thanet: A 300-megawatt offshore wind farm in Great Britain.

Construction of this $1.2 billion wind farm was completed in the last three months of 2010. Located in the mouth of the Thames, eleven kilometres off the coast of Kent County, the installation spans 35 square kilometres and employs 100 wind generators capable of covering energy needs of over 200,000 homes.

This is the world’s largest wind farm project to date. Besides the hefty contribution it has made into the development of the renewables sector, it has also created some 800 jobs for the local population.

Today’s project completion was preceded by six years of planning and an independent expert assessment of the wind power installation’s potential environmental impact – experts from the company Royal Haskoning were looking into possible harmful effects the wind park may produce on birds’ migration paths, fish habitats and those of marine mammals, as well as other impacts.

Rodsand II: A 207-megawatt offshore wind energy in Denmark.

Construction of this $1.2 billion wind farm was completed in the last three months of 2010. Located in the mouth of the Thames, eleven kilometres off the coast of Kent County, the installation spans 35 square kilometres and employs 100 wind generators capable of covering energy needs of over 200,000 homes

Among the latest offshore wind park projects the second largest is the project of expanding the existing wind power installation near the Danish coast of the Baltic Sea.

Rodsand II is Denmark’s twelfth wind farm. The ninety new turbines installed at the park will supply electricity to some 200,000 homes. The construction, which cost around $554 million, lasted for 18 months. The dynamic development of alternative energy in this Scandinavian country is clear evidence of the government’s commitment to phasing out fossil fuels fully by 2050.

Onshore wind energy parks

The US has completed building new wind power capacities at the wind park Fowler Ridge, near Fowler, Indiana. The cost of the additional 133 wind turbines, to a combined capacity of 200 megawatts, is estimated at $77.2 million

With the commissioning of the second line of construction, Fowler Ridge will now have a total combined output capacity of 600 megawatts. Future plans include further expanding the plant’s capacities by adding a third line of construction, which will bring the installation’s total output to 750 megawatts. The project is being developed by the American companies BP Alternative North Energy Inc and Dominion Resources.

Penascal: A 404-megawatt wind farm in the US.

The world’s second largest onshore wind farm was also built on the American soil, in Texas.

In April 2010, this site launched into operation 168 newly built wind power generators, which are capable of supplying energy to 150,000 homes. In 2009, the project’s developer, Iberdrola, had been able to invest into the project $114 million in state funds allocated from the US federal budget as a stimulus measure to support the development of renewable energy in the country.

The company then conducted 18-month-long studies of birds’ migration patterns – and installed special radars that would track approaching flocks and automatically switch off wind power generators in conditions of poor visibility and increased hazard for birds – in order to mitigate any potential burden the plant might have on the surrounding environment.

China, meanwhile, is hurrying to outdo the US in terms of biggest onshore wind power capacities. In 2010, Beijing announced it had plans for construction of a 10,000-megawatt wind park. If the Chinese project is realised, the country will become a global leader in volumes of power produced from wind.

Solar power stations

Sarnia PV plant: Canada’s 97-megawatt solar plant.

Even as more and more solar energy capacities are being introduced in Europe, the largest solar project of last year was, surprisingly, the expansion of the already operating solar power plant in Ontario, Canada

The $300 million installation comprises 1.3 million photovoltaic elements spread over a territory of 385 hectares. Its output will be sufficient to cover energy needs of around 12,800 homes. The companies behind the project are First Solar and Enbridge, which has traditionally been a player on the oil market, but has lately started investing increasingly larger funds and efforts into renewable energy projects.

Montalto di Castro: A 84.2-megawatt solar power station in Italy.

his project was developed by SunRay Renewable, which in February 2010 was bought by the company SunPower. This solar power station, located at a distance of 100 kilometres from Rome, is now Italy’s largest solar energy installation. A special aeration system protects the photovoltaic modules from the corrosive impact of the salty sea air prevalent in these parts.
Geothermal power stations

Nga Awa Purua: A 132-megawatt geothermal plant in New Zealand.

The Rokotawa site in New Zealand has become that country’s second largest geothermal plant and the largest among single-turbine geothermal stations in the world

This plant, which cost $430 million, will supply power to around 140,000 homes.

Today, New Zealand is fully availing itself of the island’s vast natural resources and fast-paced technological advances to keep a leading place on the global roster of countries that produce energy from geothermal sources. The share of geothermal energy in New Zealand’s total energy budget has by now reached 14 percent.

Nga Awa Purua, which was built and is managed by the state-owned Mighty River Power, is the largest geothermal power plant project the world has seen in the past decade.

Nuova Radicondoli 2 and Chiusdino 1: Italy’s 40-megawatt geothermal endeavour.

Italy’s two new geothermal stations were built in 2010 in Larderello, in Tuscany. These parts are rich in various natural resources that have been used for energy production for as long as since 1930

The new geothermal plants are supplying green energy to more than 100,000 homes and have saved Italy on the order of 200,000 tonnes annually in prevented CO2 emissions. Today, Tuscany’s total geothermal capacities reach 728 megawatts.