UK to expand renewable energy resources

Offshore windfarms with the potential to power 1 in 6 UK households were given the green light for development today by Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

The DTI released proposals for the next generation of offshore windfarms to provide up to 6GW of new energy generation by 2010, enough to power 15% of all households in the United Kingdom.

Areas of shallow waters in the Thames Estuary, Greater Wash and the North West have been identified by the Crown Estate and the DTI as appropriate for development:

The sites were originally identified in November in the DTI’s Future Offshore consultation, but have since been subject to environmental assessment, to ascertain the impact of proposed development, before sites could be offered for leasing.

Today Patricia 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. 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 1.5GW – enough to power all the households in Manchester.

Round Two is said to be far more ambitious in scale, with each farm comprising hundreds, rather than tens of turbines.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, the energy produced will be sufficient to power more than 3.5million 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.

Today’s announcement comes as public support for renewable energy is stronger than ever.

A new opinion poll undertaken by the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) showed that 74% of bill payers supported the increased used of wind power, with 74% backing the Government’s target of generating 20% of electricity from renewables by 2020.