The Work

In 2009, the UK signed up to the EU Renewable Energy Directive, requiring the UK to source 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Wind energy plays a significant role in meeting these targets. The UK is one of the few countries to have installed 5,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power and has more offshore wind capacity than any other country in the world. The London Array will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm, generating enough electricity to power 750,000 homes. Tidal energy has considerable potential with the world’s first commercial-scale grid connected tidal stream generator deployed in 2008 by Marine Current Turbines (MCT). Small-scale hydro-power accounts for 18% of UK renewable energy. Water Power Enterprises (WPE) has developed community hydro-electric plants located on existing river weirs. By 2011, there were 230,000 solar power projects in the UK with installed capacity reaching 1,000 MW. The renewable energy industry is filling the void left by the decline of traditional manufacturing. Shipbuilders Harland & Wolff, now engage in offshore renewable energy projects. Ballard creates beautiful industrial photographs with his large-format camera to document the mixed picture of the renewables industry in the UK.

  • The London Array is a remarkable offshore wind farm under construction in the outer Thames Estuary.
  • Murray Ballard Murray Ballard Once complete, it will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world, with a total capacity of up to 1,000 MW. This is sufficient to generate electricity for 750,000 homes, equivalent to all the homes in Kent and East Sussex.
  • The London Array is being built in two phases; Phase One, with a total of 175 wind turbines and two offshore substations, is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.

    The total cost of Phase One is €2.2 billion, which has been invested by a consortium of three energy companies: Dong (50% share), E.ON (30% share) and Masdar (20% share).

  • The turbines are manufactured by Siemens Wind Power in Denmark and have a capacity of 3.6 MW each.
  • The turbines start generating electricity when wind speeds reach 3 metres per second (m/3) or around 7mph. They achieve full power from 13m/s (around 29mph). The turbines will start shutting down if the wind speed becomes greater than 25m/s – equivalent to a force 9 gale.
  • Harland and Wolff is a major ship builder based in Belfast since 1861, most famous for building both HMS Belfast and the ill-fated Titanic.
  • Today, faced with competitive pressure in the shipbuilding industry from South Korea and China, the company has turned its attention to manufacturing for the expanding offshore power industry, which accounts for 75% of its work.
  • H & W are currently working on the construction of two Siemens substations for the Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm located off the coast of North Wales and three innovative meteorological mast foundations for the Dogger Bank and Firth of Forth offshore wind farms.
  • The company also constructed the first commercial tidal stream turbine for Marine Current Turbines (MCT), also featured in this photo essay.
  • Water Power Enterprises (WPE), is a Community Interest Company and represents a small-scale model for producing renewable energy. WPE design, develop and install hydro-electric power plants, often locating them adjacent to existing weirs on the sites of disused industrial revolution era water mills.

    The plants use the principals of the Archimedes Screw - originally designed by the Greek mathematician to move water uphill in order to irrigate crops.

  • The Otterspool Weir just outside Stockport will, at its peak, generate 60-75 KW of electricity which is enough to power 50 homes and save over 90 tons of CO2 emissions per year.
    The project has been funded by a community share offer which has raised more than £250,000, supported by a grant from the North-West Development Agency, a bank loan and a key fund grant.
    It will generate clean electricity for at least forty years with only maintenance as an ongoing cost.
  • Marine Current Turbines Siemens (MCT) is the world’s leading developer, manufacturer and operator of large-scale, undersea tidal stream turbines. Tidal stream energy presents one of the most exciting emerging forms of renewable energy.
    Tidal currents, driven by the gravitational fields of the moon, offer a renewable energy resource where power production can be accurately predicted.
  • Tidal turbines operate like an inverted windmill where the blades are driven by steady, fast-moving currents. The submerged rotors harness the power of the tidal streams to drive generators, which in turn produce electricity.
  • In May 2008 MCT installed SeaGen in Strangford Lough near Belfast, the world’s only full-scale commercial tidal current turbine. With a tide running at 9 knots it generates 10 MW of power while the tide is flowing, generating approximately enough energy on average to supply 1,500 houses.
  • The vision is to deploy SeaGen turbines in arrays much like offshore wind turbines and prospective sites are being explored off the west coasts of Scotland and Wales.
  • In early 2012 the University of Brighton installed the largest solar array in Brighton and Hove. The system, mounted on the roof of the University’s Cockcroft building, consists of 132 photovoltaic panels, manufactured by Sun Power and installed by South Downs Solar.

    Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology captures the sun’s energy using photovoltaic cells. These cells do not require direct sunlight to work and can generate electricity on a cloudy day.

  • With an output of 333 watts per panel (rather than the standard 250 watts), they are highly efficient, generating the maximum amount of electricity from the roof space available. The array is estimated to produce 38,000 KW hours per annum, with the project expected to repay the investment within sixteen years.
| of 17 Play |

The Photographer

Murray Ballard

Murray Ballard was born in Brighton, UK and remains based there. Murray graduated from the University of Brighton in 2007 with a BA in Photography and was selected for ‘Fresh Faced and Wild Eyed 2008′ – the annual showcase of work by recent graduates at The Photographers Gallery, London. In 2011 the British Journal of Photography recognised him as one of the ‘Emerging Photographers of Note’, following his debut solo show, ‘The Prospect of Immortality’, at Impressions Gallery, Bradford. Murray’s work has been published internationally in a range of publications including GEO, GQ, The Guardian, Intelligence in Lifestyle, Wired and the photography journals: 8, British Journal of Photography, HotShoe and YVI. Murray chooses to work on medium and large format cameras mainly and creates highly stylised imagery which lends itself well to documenting innovative science research projects.

View More

FotoEnvironment 2012 - 2013