LONDON (Reuters) - Dong Energy has installed the first of the world's largest wind turbines, which are taller and wider than the London Eye, at its Burbo Bank windfarm off the coast of Britain in the Irish Sea, it said on Thursday.
The 32 turbines, made by Vestas, will each be able to generate 8 megawatts (MW) of electricity, stand 195 meters tall from sea level and have a rotor diameter of 164 meters.
"This will be the first commercial deployment of the world's largest wind turbines," Benj Sykes, Dong's UK country manager for wind power, told Reuters.
Combined, the 32 turbines will create enough electricity to power around 230,000 homes.
The largest turbines currently installed, at Dong's Westermost Rough wind farm off the Yorkshire coast, in the North Sea, have a 6 MW capacity and are around 177 meters tall.
Britain is seeking new electricity generation to replace its aging coal and nuclear power stations and has said around 10 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity could be installed by the end of the decade.
The extension to the existing Burbo Bank wind farm, which comprises of 25 smaller 3.6 MW turbines, will likely be completed by the first half of 2017.
"Using larger turbines is a critical part of the industry’s drive in getting costs down," Sykes said.
"Each turbine needs foundations, cables to an onshore substation and maintenance, so the more megawatts you can generate from each turbine, the lower the overall cost per MW."
Dong has a target to drive down costs of offshore wind power to 100 euros ($112.48) per megawatt hour (MWh) by 2020.
The Burbo Bank extension has already secured a minimum price for the electricity generated through Britain's contracts for difference (CfD) scheme of 150 pounds ($200) MWh for 15 years.
Britain's government has said its next round of CfD renewable funding will focus on offshore wind, but the subsidies will be dependent on the wind industry's ability to drive down its costs.
(Reporting by Susanna Twidale; editing by Susan Thomas)