UK offshore wind farm
The offshore Greater Gabbard wind farm is the world's second largest (Reuters)

Britain has opened the world's second largest offshore wind farm off the Suffolk coast which will help generate enough renewable energy to power around half a million homes .

The Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm, which cost £1.3bn ($2bn, €1.5bn) to construct, has 140 turbines and is run by energy giant SSE. It will be doubled in size by 2017 when an extension is completed.

According to the government's Offshore Wind Industrial Strategy, the sector could contribute as much as £7bn to the UK economy in 2021, having created 30,000 jobs along the way.

"The UK leads the world in offshore wind power generation with more capacity than the rest of the world combined, and we want to see this sector grow even further," said Energy and Business Minister Michael Fallon, who opened the Greater Gabbard wind farm.

"This sector is an engine of our economy. By the end of this decade, tens of thousands of additional jobs could be created in the supply-chain for offshore wind throughout the UK."

Britain's Growing Energy Sector

Across the UK there are over 1,000 wind turbines with a combined energy capacity of 3.6 gigawatts - 5.5pc of the UK's electricity supply.

The government is investing £20m through the Regional Growth Fund in the wind energy sector's supply chain, as well as £46m in research and development to "join up innovation between industry, government and academia and help companies to bring new products to market."

However, the government has faced criticism for using foreign expertise, labour and manufacturers to develop the UK's wind sector. It has been touted as a lost opportunity to keep the investment within the country while boosting the domestic economy.

Energy giant Centrica's wind farm off the coast of Lincolnshire, which cost £1bn to build, was constructed by a Danish firm and is maintained by Scandinavian workers.

Environmental campaigners are pushing for more wind farms to be built, so shift the burden of Britain's energy needs away from dirty fossil fuels and onto clean, renewable energy sources.

However, many local communities have vociferously objected to wind farms being built nearby, either onshore or offshore, as some deem them ugly structures blighting the landscape. Critics also say they are noisy and can bring down house prices.