The Government is looking to offshore wind farms to achieve its aim of generating 10% of the UK’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2010, and has started a hunt for sites.
Energy Minister John Battle said last week that the UK would need to build a further 3-4GW of renewable capacity over the next 11 years to attain this goal.
Offshore wind farms could be the key to reaching this target, as they offer the best prospect for individual projects of well over 100MW.
‘Offshore wind energy in particular has the potential to make a substantial contribution towards this target,’ said Battle.
He disclosed that the Department of Trade and Industry has reached agreement with the Crown Estate, which administers government-owned land, to identify possible sites for generating power from offshore wind.
Battle added that details of how offshore wind projects may be advanced under the Government’s Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation, which provides a subsidy for renewable schemes, will be published shortly in a consultation paper.
The DTI has also spent £2.4m on 10 projects to encourage engineering firms to invest in the manufacture and supply of wind turbine components.
Battle said over 500 companies are involved in renewable energy in the UK, directly employing about 3,500 people.
* Ecotricity, a joint venture between the Renewable Energy Company and Thames Water, was launched last week to sell green power from schemes that were included in the first two tranches of the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation, but whose subsidy expired at the end of 1998.
The company will sell about 60MW of electricity. This power will be generated by sewage gas, waste-to-energy projects, landfill gas, hydro, solar and wind schemes, in direct competition with power from other sources.