Largest off-shore wind farm blows open

Wind turbines generate electricity in England.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The world's biggest off-shore wind farm opens today, off the south coast of England. The farm will boost Britain's wind power capacity by 30 percent. Marketplace's Stephen Beard is with us live from London to talk about it. Hi Stephen.

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: Now this sounds like a really big project. Give us an idea of the scale of it.

BEARD: A hundred turbines each, 380-feet tall. It should generate enough electricity for more than 200,000 homes. It costs the owner, the Swedish utility Vattenfall more than a billion dollars to build.

CHIOTAKIS: A billion dollars. Now will the Swedish company recovery that investment, Stephen?

BEARD: Well the prospects are very good because wind power is subsidized. The company gets to sell all its electricity to the grid at a much higher price than if it were generated by fossil fuels. The grid companies have to buy it, they're under a legal obligation to do so, and they'll pass on the cost to consumers. According to one estimate, we could be talking about $20 per household per quarter. What the country gets out of it, of course, is clean energy and energy security. Here's Steve Remp, who runs an off-shore wind company in Scotland.

STEVE REMP: Off-shore wind is expensive, there's no question about that. It will only survive with government support or in terms of economic incentives. But it's going to happen. I'm absolutely convinced of that.

But it is still very early days. The U.K. has all this capacity, but it still only supplies about 4 percent of the country's electricity needs. And skeptics say wind power will always be a very expensive way to go because wind is an erratic source of energy. And you always will need backup generating sources and that means more expense.

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace's Stephen Beard in London.

BEARD: OK Steve.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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