British Energy goes offshore

British Energy has announced its formation of a joint venture with Renewable Energy Systems Ltd to develop offshore wind power around the UK mainland coast.

The new joint venture company, Offshore Wind Power Limited, has made an application for its first project to the Crown Estate, which owns the seabed and will offer leases on sites for development.

Offshore Wind Power Limited brings together two established power generating and engineering companies in the UK. RES is said to be one of Europe’s leading wind energy developers and part of the large British construction company Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd. British Energy is the UK’s largest power generator supplying over 20% of the country’s power.

‘Adding generation from wind energy to our nuclear portfolio means the Company will continue to make an enormous contribution to the UK achieving and maintaining its climate change commitments,’ said Peter Hollins, British Energy’s Chief Executive.

‘We are confident that our bid to the Crown Estate is a strong one,’ said Dr Ian Mays, Managing Director of RES. ‘Offshore wind power has huge potential in the UK for generating clean and efficient electricity, thereby helping the UK meet its climate change commitments.’

RES is the largest UK-based wind energy developer with over 1100 MW of capacity on its books at various stages of development in the USA, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. RES’ plans for 2001 include construction of the world’s largest wind farm in Texas, with a capacity of 280MW.

The pre-qualification application to the Crown Estate marks the first stage in a development process, which could last around four years. Following pre-qualification, Offshore Wind Power Limited will apply for consents, carry out surveys and enter a round of grant applications to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The DTI anticipates that the offshore wind industry will generate 1.8% of the total UK electricity supply by 2010.