Construction: Building a greener future

8th February 2018

By Katie Pryce, Preconstruction & Sustainability Coordinator

2017 was the UK’s “greenest year for electricity ever,” according to the BBC.

In April, the UK had its first coal power free day since the Industrial Revolution. In June, for the first time ever, wind, nuclear and solar power generated more UK electricity than coal and gas combined!

Britain has halved carbon emissions in the electricity sector since 2012 and is arguably reducing emissions faster than any other G7 country, which includes the US, Japan, Germany, Italy, France and Canada.

British wind farms produced more electricity than coal plants during more than 75% of 2017. 

 

It is clear that fantastic progress has been made across the industry, but there is even more to come. Here is a list of some of the UK’s most interesting green energy construction projects this year and beyond…

Wave & Tidal

Wave and tidal energy are pretty untapped sources of green energy worldwide. However, surrounded by water on all sides and experiencing one of the largest tidal ranges on Earth, this translates into huge energy potential for the UK.

Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon

This landmark project, due to start construction in early 2018 and be completed by 2022, would be the first of its kind in the UK and could dramatically change the landscape of the Britain’s renewable energy market.

The ambitious £1.3bn plan is to construct a 9.5km sea wall to create a 11.5km2 artificial lagoon featuring 16 tidal powered turbines capable of generating 320MW – enough power for 155,00 homes.

Having received strong support from the Hendry Review and with government estimations placing the UK’s tidal potential at 25-30 GW, many will be eagerly watching how this project progresses. With numerous other locations across the UK where this technology could take off – watch this space!

Wind

The UK is a pretty wet & windy country and a world leader in offshore wind power, with ~30 wind farms generating over 5% of national energy demand. This is expected to increase to 10% by 2020 with a number of notable projects currently being developed.

Rampion Wind Farm

Developed by E.ON, this £1.3bn green project is set to be first offshore wind farm on the south coast of England. Rampion Wind Farm began construction in 2015, the first turbine was erected in 2017, and is set for completion in 2018.

The project is extensive, with over 100 turbines spread across almost 30 square miles of the English Channel. Each turbine consists of an 80m tower weighing approximately 200 tonnes, a nacelle, and 3 blades measuring 55m in length all transported from Esbjerg in Denmark – a logistical nightmare on dry land let alone at sea.

But worth it, with all turbines installed, Rampion has a generation capacity of 400MW – enough to power almost 350,000 homes every year, equivalent to around half the homes in Sussex.

Biomass

Although environmentalists dispute the idea that wood-burning is green at all, biomass is officially considered low-carbon by the UK & EU. The UK’s biggest power station, Drax in North Yorkshire, has already converted 3 of its 6 units from coal to biomass, and with biomass growing in popularity, new developments are cropping up across the country.

Kent Biomass Plant

Expected to be operational by summer, this £130 million project is located in Kent near Sandwich and has been developed by Estover Energy Ltd.

Upon completion, the plant will have a capacity of 27.8 MW, the same power consumption as 50,000 households. It will be fired primarily with virgin wood sourced locally in the UK, delivering CO2 savings of approximately 100,000 tonnes every year.