Offshore, Project Development, Wind Power

Britain Lets Wind Energy Occupy Use Offshore Crown Regions

A federal agency in Briain has released the names of 18 developers who pre-qualify to build offshore wind farms.

LONDON, England, UK, 2001-04-09 <SolarAccess.com> In an announcement released one month ahead of schedule, the Crown Estate has revealed which seabed sites will be leased to offshore turbines. Developers now can apply for the regulatory approval that is required for offshore developments and, in particular, begin their consultations with the public. “Our role at the Crown Estate has been a small but significant part of getting this important new industry on its feet,” says Frank Parrish, head of the agency’s Marine Estates. “We have worked closely with DTI (Department of Trade & Inudstry) and the members of the British Wind Energy Association to get to this stage.” The Crown Estate is landowner of the territorial seabed surrounding the British Isles. It controls 2,735 km of foreshore, 55 percent of the beds of tidal rivers and almost all of the seabed out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit around the United Kingdom. “The successful applicants can now begin wide consultation on their proposals and undertake the necessary technical and environmental studies,” he adds. “If all of these sites were to go ahead, the power generated would be between 1,000 and 1,500 MW, enough to power over one million households.” The value of the developments would be US$2.3 billion, and is the first large scale attempt in Britain to tap offshore wind energy. It is expected that 540 turbines will be installed, and will generate 1 percent of Britain’s energy needs by 2005. The minimum output for each site is 20 MW and the total capacity would be up to 1,500 MW. Developers include Enron, Royal Dutch/Shell, Powergen, London Electricity, AMEC and British Energy. The approved locations range from 2.3 to 10 km off the coast. More than half the sites are located in the Irish Sea along England’s northwest coast between Liverpool and the Scottish border. Others are on the east coast off East Anglia and in the mouth of the Thames estuary, north at Teesside, and in the coastal waters of south Wales in the Severn estuary. Crown Estate invited developers to pre-qualify for an option on 10 km2 of seabed, to accommodate a maximum of 30 turbines. The round was structured to establish the financial and technical credentials of the applicant companies and to ensure that their proposed sites do not conflict with other uses. Under the terms of an agreement, companies must obtain all statutory consents within three years. The Crown Estate has no regulatory responsibility and developers must apply through DTI and other federal departments before work can commence. DTI recently set up some ‘one-stop’ centres to help applicants process their applications. Wind power is price competitive with alternative sources and can be generated for 1.9 to 3.0 pence per kWh, compared with 1.8 to 2.2 pence for gas, says the British Wind Energy Association. Offshore turbines are more expensive to install than onshore units, but local resistance to noise and the sight of tall turbines has forced the move. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have supported the announcement, but want the government to catch up with countries like Denmark, where the wind industry employs 14,000 people. This announcement is expected to create 8,000 new jobs and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by four million tonnes. “This is the dawn of new era in energy and the beginning of a major new UK industry,” says Mark Johnston of FOE. “At long last, wind energy’s massive potential is being matched by the ambition and financial capital of major British companies.” “These projects will also make a major contribution to cutting the pollution from fossil fuels, the major cause of climate change,” he adds. “This demonstrates to the rest of the world, and especially to the President Bush in the White House, that the UK is able and willing to fulfil its international obligations on tackling dangerous climate change.” FOE wants all candidates in the country’s General Elections to support a 20 percent target for reducing carbon dioxide by 2010 as a key environmental target for the next Parliament. The British government has set a target of 10 percent of electricity to be generated from renewable energy facilities by 2010, compared with the current 2.8 percent, and BWEA calculates that 3,800 turbines will be required to meet that target.