Addressing the opening of a recent oil and gas conference, British Wind Energy Association Chairman Alan Moore commented to the 40-strong audience…London, England – April 2, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Addressing the opening of a recent oil and gas conference, British Wind Energy Association Chairman Alan Moore commented to the 40-strong audience. “I’ve just come from another conference where 350 people were getting very excited about offshore wind. I hope I can pass on a little bit of that excitement to you.” And excitement is riding high for the UK offshore wind industry. In the space of less than a year, the sector has grown from two experimental turbines off the coast of Northumberland to 210 turbines totalling over 650 MW – almost double the wind power capacity installed during the 1990s. Seven offshore wind farms have so far received consent in the first licensing round and another nine are likely to go ahead, with a combined capacity of up to 1,500 MW which will be generating 1.5 percent of the UK’s energy needs by 2006. This statistic was echoed by Energy Minister Brian Wilson as he announced the next release of capital grants for the offshore wind farms. Mr Wilson told delegates to the industry’s special topic conference UK Offshore Wind 2003 that £42 million (US$66 million) had been awarded to those offshore projects which were given consent just last week. Mr Wilson went on to say that a further £40 million (uS$63 million) of additional funding for renewables would be going to ‘First Round’ offshore projects. More good news for the industry came with early indications of how the next licensing round would proceed. The Crown Estate reported the exceptionally high levels of interest expressed by companies wanting to build in ‘Round 2’, with offers being made for 70 new offshore sites, representing thousands of MW. Following due consideration and in conjunction with Government’s response to the ‘Future Offshore’ consultation, sites could be awarded by the end of September. With construction already underway on the first of the large-scale offshore sites and membership of the industry body, the British Wind Energy Association, now standing at 250 companies in recognition of the work to be done in meeting Government’s expectations for the sector, offshore wind has a powerful future in the UK.