UK Prime Minister David Cameron has opened the world's largest offshore wind farm, London Array, located approximately 20km off the Kent and Essex coast in the Thames Estuary.
The £1.5bn offshore wind farm is owned, developed and built by a consortium of Dong Energy, E.ON and Abu Dhabi's renewable energy firm Masdar.
The wind farm features 175 Siemens 3.6MW turbines and will generate 630MW of electricity, enough to power approximately 500,000 homes or equal to two-thirds of Kent.
London Array will reduce approximately 900,000t of carbon dioxide emissions per year and be operated and maintained from a base at Ramsgate Port.
Siemens supplied and installed all the wind turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 120m.The company has also supplied the grid connection with one onshore and two offshore substations in the North Sea.
Electricity generated by the wind turbines is bundled at sea and transported through high-voltage submarine cables to the coast.
Construction on the wind farm started in 2009, while turbine installation was completed in December 2012.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Cameron said the project will bring benefits to Kent for years to come.
"London Array has been built by some of the bravest seamen, the most talented engineers and hardest workers," Cameron said.
UK Energy and Climate Minister Edward Davey said London Array was a big deal for offshore wind, UK electricity supply and for inward investment into the country.
"It's a bulk generator of power feeding into the diverse mix on our grid," Davey said. "Half a million homes will be London Array powered. This is good news for keeping our lights on and reducing carbon emissions."
Siemens president and CEO Peter Löscher said: "Projects of this magnitude contribute to further industrialisation of complex production and logistics processes for offshore wind power plants."
Image: London Array wind farm, which is located in the Thames Estuary, will be operated and maintained from a base at Ramsgate Port. Photo: courtesy of London Array.