Skip to content

Another Telegraph Advert For Offshore Wind

May 22, 2017

By Paul Homewood



Jillian Ambrose writes up another glowing advertising piece for the offshore wind industry:



The sound made by 100 tonnes of steel and carbon fibre rotating 400 feet overhead is surprisingly understated. Each whoosh of the 260 foot blades spans an area the size of the London Eye and generates enough electricity to power the average British home for 24 hours.    

There are 32 of these 8MW turbines in the second phase of Dong Energy’s Burbo Bank wind farm spinning off the Merseyside coast.       

They are the most powerful ever, dotting an area the size of almost 6,000 football pitches within the Irish Sea, each one a beacon of Britain’s global dominance in the booming offshore wind industry.

Benj Sykes, the UK boss for Dong Energy’s wind power business, predicts he may be cutting the ribbon on turbines with double this power capacity by 2024.

“If you wind the clock back four or five years, this scale of technology was considered very ambitious. Now, you can see them in reality, commercially deployed. It’s very difficult to say where we will ultimately get to,” he says.

Wind turbines have already more than doubled their power capacity since Dong Energy constructed the first phase of Burbo Bank in 2007 with 3.7MW structures. By the mid-2020s turbines may double again and a capacity of 15MW could be spinning in Europe’s waters.

As the efficiency and power potential of each turbine increases, costs keep falling.

Sykes, a former oil executive at Royal Dutch Shell, has been at the helm of the Danish energy company’s UK operations for five years. In this time offshore wind has defied critics by driving its eye-watering costs down by a third, twice as quickly as planned.

“I remember when the industry in the UK first set what we very carefully referred to as an ‘ambition’ rather than a target for cost reduction. It was to drive costs to £100 a megawatt hour. Well, we’ve already broken through the £100 barrier,” he says.    

The company is expected to emerge from the Government’s latest low-carbon subsidy auction as the major victor, but Sykes will not be drawn on price predictions beyond saying costs will fall below the £92.50/MWh contract price for Hinkley Point C. Experts believe offshore wind contracts set at £85 a megawatt hour are possible.


All of this sounds wonderful, until you look at that price of £85/MWh. In fact, these prices are, misleadingly, at 2012 prices. This is the way that the government’s CfD operates.

At current prices, the figure of £85/MWh works out at about £92/MWh. This is more than double the wholesale price of £42.60/MWh.


Both DONG boss, Sykes, and Renewables UK’s Emma Pinchbeck, who is also given a lot of space, are allowed to warble on about new jobs and investment, without the least bit of critical questioning from Ambrose.

If she had got a degree in Economics, instead of Journalism, Media Studies and English Literature, she might have known that these subsidised jobs come at the expense of others in the economy.

She also does not appear to recognise that consumers have to pay to keep standby capacity ticking over, for when there is no wind.



She also refers to an offshore project near Martha’s Vineyard, which Scottish Power have successfully bid for:


Anderson (boss of Scottish Power Renewables) has quietly broken into the US market by successfully bidding for two major US offshore wind projects, each the size of its entire UK portfolio.    

It will makes its US debut with the Vineyard Wind project 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts after snapping up a 50pc stake in project. It could begin generating power within five years. The second foray is located off the coast of North Carolina and is expected to power up by 2025.


She omits to explain that Massachusetts passed a law last year, requiring utilities to procure a combined 1,600 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind farms in a little over 10 years.

As with the UK, there would not be a market for offshore wind without the plethora of subsidies and political mandates.

  1. Dung permalink
    May 22, 2017 10:27 am

    One 400ft turbine will keep one UK house powered for 1 day???? 25 million homes in the UK

    • May 22, 2017 10:50 am

      With that sentence, Gillian is admitting to the whole world that she hasn’t a clue what she is writing about. I suspect it means that each whoosh, ie each time a blade passes the tower, (probably 20rpm, so once a second) it generates about 12kWh (a rough figure for the daily consumption of a typical home). Thus in a day the turbine will generate about 1GWh. An 8MW turbine at 100% capacity factor would generate 192MWh in a day. So the capacity factor is 500%! Something wrong here! Somebody needs to check my rough calculation.

    • May 22, 2017 10:53 am

      Dung, isn’t it just one “whoosh” that will keep a house powered for a day?

      I think it’s a new unit of energy output which is going to end up as familiar in this field as those well-known measurements of height and area, the London bus and the football pitch, or for exceptionally large areas, the Wales!

  2. HorshamBren permalink
    May 22, 2017 10:28 am

    Headline in today’s Times: ‘Windfarms blamed after three whales die off Suffolk’

    Whales, it seems, do not find the sound of turbine blades surprisingly understated

    • Henning Nielsen permalink
      May 22, 2017 6:25 pm

      So, the whales don’t sing in tune with global salvation? Good riddance then, the climate d*niers. /sarc

  3. May 22, 2017 10:45 am

    “They are the most powerful ever, dotting an area the size of almost 6,000 football pitches within the Irish Sea, each one a beacon of Britain’s global dominance in the booming offshore wind industry”

    Pass the sick bag, somebody! Is this part of the “paid content” that the Telegraph insists in shoving up my nose while at the same time complaining I use an ad-blocker? Just askin’.

  4. Joe Public permalink
    May 22, 2017 11:21 am

    “Wind turbines have already more than doubled their power capacity since Dong Energy constructed the first phase of Burbo Bank in 2007 with 3.7MW structures.”

    Sounds extremely impressive.

    Until it’s realised that the turbines need to be positioned so that the distances between them are between 3-10 rotor diameters, so the taller the beasts, the fewer per unit area.

    For info, Phase1 of Dong’s Burbo Bank subsidy farm operated at a capacity factor of less than 22.6% for 50% of its time.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      May 22, 2017 11:46 am

      In Germany in 2015, the wind output was LESS than 16.4% for 50% of the time

      and in 2016 LESS than 14% for 50% of the time.

      But they just keep building these useless, unreliable, environment-destroying, monstrosities.

      • Joe Public permalink
        May 22, 2017 5:05 pm

        Hi Andy

        Burbo Bank is offshore, whilst the majority of German turbines are onshore & hence more-likely to be affected by ground conditions.

  5. May 22, 2017 11:36 am

    Denmark, the land of wind turbines, has the highest cost of electricity in Europe and only survives as it has Norway’s Hydro system as backup, which we do not have.
    The Danish Dong Energy company is now nuzzling in to our U.K. subsidy system and we consumers will pick up the bill.
    A quick calculation from the data above shows that it requires some 188.8 Acres of area to produce 1 Mw of actual electricity. Not very impressive methinks compared with the footprint of an efficient gas turbine.

  6. CheshireRed permalink
    May 22, 2017 11:52 am

    Slice and dice the figures any way they want, we all know wind energy is an absolute joke. Wait till the offshore turbines start failing (which they will do, based as they are in about the worst possible environment) and repair and replacement costs start to kick in. At that point also expect more smoke and mirrors accounting to hide the real costs.

  7. Graeme No.3 permalink
    May 22, 2017 12:21 pm

    I am still baffled as to how they expect to double output per turbine. Given that turbines now operate at 85-90% of the Betz limit there is limited room for improvement in efficiency.
    Equally, as the diameter of the blades increases so does the tip rotational speed, which means that for a thick aerofoil the speed of rotation must reduce, leading to a mismatch in air speed v most prevalent wind speed.
    Also as the tip speed increases the stress on the blades means that more expensive materials have to be used in construction (as per the claim above of carbon fibre usage). That must effect the economics adversely.
    And thick aerofoils are prone to buffeting so stronger construction follows. More expense.
    Then as pointed out above, the density of turbine placement reduces.

  8. May 22, 2017 12:38 pm

    Giant wind turbine blade falls across autobahn in German truck crash

  9. tom0mason permalink
    May 22, 2017 12:40 pm

    So the UK government is going for ‘future jobs’ when the massive amount of maintenance these structures will demand.
    and this very optimistic report

    Umm, I wonder how well the arguments stand-up to considering long term costing of say, the lifetime of a new coal-fired power plant operating life and the maintenance requirements, and off-shore wind generation.

  10. May 22, 2017 1:13 pm

    I was struck by another paragraph in the Telegraph report on Scottish Power:

    “The company’s renewables arm is creating a crack team of offshore engineers and wind farm experts …”

    What other industry is reported as having a “crack team”? Proof that the Telegraph has given itself over to being a marketing outlet for wind power.

  11. mwhite permalink
    May 22, 2017 4:26 pm

    More news on windfarms

    “Three whales that washed up on the Suffolk coast may have died after becoming disorientated by offshore windfarms, marine experts believe.”

  12. HotScot permalink
    May 22, 2017 5:28 pm

    I read somewhere that it takes 70 renewable employees to produce the same amount of energy (electricity?) as a single coal miner.

    So the name of the game is to get people off the dole queue by creating taxpayer subsidised jobs, under cover of climate change, instead of simply handing over taxpayers hard earned money, in the form of welfare.

  13. MrGrimNasty permalink
    May 22, 2017 9:13 pm

    The Rampion wind farm is well under way 10km or so from me, aside from all the sleepless nights and day time stress from the piling work that was like a rubber mallet bass boom to the head 40 times a minute, the visual destruction and the industrialization of the seascape is far worse than I anticipated – from one point in Ferring it essentially spans the entire visible sea horizon. I cannot imagine how such a complete wall of blades is not going to decimate the passing migrant birds that we get every year. And whenever it is ever mentioned in the local press/TV news, they always exaggerate the power it will supply and minimise/ignore the cash and other costs.

  14. tom0mason permalink
    May 23, 2017 4:15 am

    The Telegraph appears to want to push the illogical wind power generation in preference to easily recoverable natural gas through fracking. Says a lot about where the UK is heading.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: