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Plan to Locate 40GW UK Wind Farm off Iceland to Diversify Wind Source

UK wind farm to be located in international wters near Iceland
Plan calls for diversifying the sources of UK wind power (file photo)

Published May 24, 2021 4:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

Plans were announced for Britain’s first captive wind farm to be located in overseas territorial waters. The HIP Atlantic Project would install 10GW of fixed and floating wind turbines in the North Atlantic near Iceland connected to the United Kingdom by long-length, high-capacity, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) submarine power transmission cables. While located outside the UK, all the power generated in the $30 billion project would be supplied exclusively to the UK power grid.

Developed by Hecate Independent Power in a joint venture with Anglo-American Corp., HIP's planned offshore wind pods would be installed in a different meteorological catchment area from the current North Sea and Irish Sea wind farms and so HIP renewable electricity could be supplied at times when existing British wind farms are becalmed.  This diversity of wind sources provides a geographical portfolio effect to protect the UK transmission grid from too much offshore wind capacity installed in just one region.

As a first phase for the project, four connection applications were filed with National Grid Company for an initial 4,000 MW of grid connections to the United Kingdom's electricity transmission system. Each wind farm would be in a different North Atlantic location, and each pod consisting of 1,000 MW of wind turbines will have a dedicated cable linked to the United Kingdom. HIP Atlantic's first 2,000 MW of generation capacity, targeted to be off the southern and  eastern coasts of Iceland, is expected to be commissioned in early 2025

“We will stretch the zone of British-operated wind generation outside of our traditional territorial waters, pushing the boundaries of existing cable technology to generate over 1,000 kilometers from our grid landfall points throughout England,” said HIP's Chairman, Sir Tony Baldry, a former British energy minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

To support the wind farm project, HIP Atlantic is separately working with investment partners for the development of a new HVDC cable manufacturing facility. They are proposing to invest $277 million to build the cable plant at a port in the northeast of England. The plans for the cable plant include space for expansion and an associated deep-water berth for loading cable laying vessels over 900 feet in length.

HIP Atlantic is also working with a group of shipowners to modify existing vessels. The vessels, which would be capable of laying the long lengths of HVDC cable required to connect wind turbine capacity to the United Kingdom, would be the largest dedicated power cable vessels in operation in the world.

To meet the government’s requirement that these projects create local investment and new jobs, HIP Atlantic estimates the initial 2,000 MW capacity would result in some 15,000 new jobs in the United Kingdom.