Offshore Wind Powers Up

A week before the publication of the Energy White paper, as the Government’s consultation for future offshore wind farms closes, the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), representing the wind and related technologies industries, published its views on the way forward.

London, England – February 19, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “This should see Britain’s offshore wind resource finally harnessed in a way that begins to do this vast resource justice and sets British industry on the way to repeating the success of the oil and gas sectors,” said BWEA Chief Executive Nick Goodall. The industry responded to each of the 20 issues raised in the consultation, after months of discussion with industry and the environmental community, including RSPB, English Nature, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). All agree that the SEA, or Strategic Environmental Assessment, is viewed as key to the entire process said BWEA. “We’re delighted that the SEA gives us an opportunity to work much more closely with these bodies, and to develop the industry in the most logical and coherent fashion” said BWEA’s Head of Offshore Renewables, James Glennie. Adding a cautionary note, Glennie continued “There is, however, a risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater by restricting development unnecessarily while the wider environmental benefits of the SEA are being determined.” A critical risk to the government’s vision comes with the ability to connect wind farms to the electricity network. This has implications not just for the new offshore developments but for Renewable Energy as a whole. “Meeting the 10 percent target could founder if government does not resolve grid issues as a matter of urgency,” said Glennie. “Already, our colleagues in Europe have connected over 23,000 megawatts of wind to their respective systems. We must draw on existing experience to ensure the UK reaches its full potential as Europe’s windiest territory.” The UK is home to over 40 percent of the available wind energy in Europe, and a significant proportion of this is located at sea. BWEA is keen to see this abundant natural resource fully utilized, but the legal framework to do so does not exist. “We need to ensure that the legislation is put in place and swiftly implemented to allow development beyond UK’s territorial waters, as is already the case elsewhere,” said Glennie. “This consultation clearly shows that the offshore wind industry is now a significant force in the UK economy. However, it also makes clear that there are obstacles which must be overcome if the sector is to achieve its full potential.” Full details of the scale of the next round of offshore wind are expected to be unveiled at UK Offshore Wind 2003, the industry’s special topic conference, being held at Tower Thistle Hotel, London, 26-27, March. Energy Minister Brian Wilson will be addressing the opening session of the UK’s largest offshore renewables conference.

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