Big wind power boost for Britain

Posted: 15 July 2003

Environmentalists have given a warm welcome to the decision by the British Government to back a huge extension of offshore wind power around the English coast. The new wind farms will be the world's biggest, and provide enough power for one in six British homes.

The government announced on July 14, that licences would be issued for hundreds of turbines, rising 80 metres above sea level, at three sites off the North West coast, the Wash on the East coast, and the Thames Estuary.

More than 3,000 towers, located between five and 75 miles off the coast, will be built under the plan. These are in addition to 17 smaller offshore wind power developments which are already in the pipeline

The aim is to boost Britain's renewable energy sector so that it can produce 10 per cent of the country's energy by 2010. The government hopes that this will rise to 20 per cent by 2020.

Massive programme

Welcoming the announcement, a Greenpeace spokesman said the pressure group "fully supported this massive commitment to harness wind power at sea. Global warming poses a unique threat to our planet, but the government is now demonstrating the ambition needed to defeat it."

Friends of the Earth said the decision marked a 'sea change' in UK energy policy and hopefully marked "the start of a massive programme to harness the considerable opportunities offered by wind, tides and waves."

The new plan will boost the size of each wind power field to 300 or more turbines. The electricity will be collected in a hub offshore and carried to the national grid via an undersea cable.

Public support

Announcing the new wind farms, Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt said the move had wide public support. "We have the best wind resources in the whole of Europe and it is crazy that we are lagging behind countries like Germany and Spain and Denmark when we have the great expertise in offshore developments that we built up with North Sea oil," she told the BBC.

Germany has already installed over 6MW of wind power and Denmark produces 15 per cent of its energy from wind power.

The British Wind Energy Association described the news as "fantastic" Chief Executive, Marcus Rand, said "Successful projects from this announcement could account for over half the government's 10 per cent target and could be supplying clean energy to four million households by 2010."