UK Unveils Major Wind Power Expansion

Offshore windfarms with the potential to power every one in six UK households were given the green light for development by the country’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). These proposals for the next generation of offshore windfarms would provide up to six gigawatts (GW) of new energy generation by 2010, enough to power 15 percent of all households in the country.

London, England – July 15, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Offshore windfarms with the potential to power one in six UK households were given the green light for development by the country’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). These proposals for the next generation of offshore windfarms would provide up to six gigawatts (GW) of new energy generation by 2010, enough to power 15 percent of all households in the country. “This announcement is good for the environment, good for Britain’s energy needs and good for jobs,” said Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt. “The Energy White Paper committed us to providing 10 percent of energy from renewable sources by the year 2010, and an aspiration to double that figure by the year 2020. This announcement represents a big step towards meeting our goals.” Three strategic areas of shallow waters – the ideal environment for siting offshore wind turbines – have been identified by the Crown Estate and the DTI as appropriate for development; Thames Estuary, Greater Wash and North West. The sites were originally identified in November in the DTI’s Future Offshore consultation, but have since been subject to rigorous environmental assessment, to assess the impact of proposed development, before sites could be offered for leasing. Hewitt has asked The Crown Estate to invite windfarm developers to tender for sites in all the areas. This will be the second round of leasing to be announced for offshore windfarm development in the UK. The first round, which was announced in December 2000, resulted in 17 proposals from developers, two of which are already under construction: at North Hoyle, near Rhyl, and Scroby Sands near Great Yarmouth. In total Round One should result in more than 500 turbines, generating 1.5 GW – enough to power all the households in Manchester, UK, said the DTI. Round two is far more ambitious in scale, with each farm comprising hundreds – rather than tens of wind turbines. The energy produced will be sufficient to power more than 3.5 million households – or almost 9 million people, more than the population of Greater London, twice that of Scotland and three times Wales. Site leases for the second phase of windfarms will be awarded in the autumn and construction is expected to begin in the next few years. “Offshore wind has potential to provide a significant proportion of the UK’s energy needs,” Hewitt said. “It will help the UK renewables industry to grow, building on our world leading expertise in offshore manufacturing, creating over 20,000 new jobs in manufacturing, installation and maintenance, as the windfarms take shape.” The announcement comes as public support for renewable energy is stronger than ever according to a new opinion poll undertaken by the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) which showed that 74 percent of bill payers supported the increased use of wind power, along with the same number backing the government’s target of generating 20 percent of electricity from renewables by 2020. “We have the best offshore wind resource in Europe and today’s announcement signals that we are now on track to seriously develop it,” said Marcus Rand, Chief Executive of the BWEA. “Successful projects from this round could account for over half of the Government’s 10 percent target and could be supplying clean electricity to some 4 million households by 2010. This is a win-win for the environment and the economy as it represents a fantastic opportunity to generate clean electricity and thousands of new jobs.”

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