Britain grants licences for huge offshore wind farm expansion
Britain's offshore wind industry could be worth 75 billion GBP and 70,000 jobs by 2010.
London – On Friday, Britain granted licences for a huge expansion of offshore wind farms, based around nine sites which together could provide enough electricity for almost all homes in the country, officials said.
Foreign firms including Germany's Eon and RWE, Norway's Statoil, Portugal's EDP and Sweden's Vattenfall won bids to develop the coastal sites which have the potential for 6,400 additional turbines generating 32 gigawatts.
This would be enough "to supply nearly all the homes in the UK," officials said, while the project – known as Round 3 – is hoped to deliver a quarter of the country's total electricity needs by 2020.
World leaders in offshore wind
"Our policies in support of offshore wind energy have already put us ahead of every other country in the world," said Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"This new round of licences provides a substantial new platform for investing in UK industrial capacity."
Brown said Britain's offshore wind industry could be worth 75 billion GBP (120 billion USD, 84 billion EUR) and support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020.
He said the new wind farms would also "make a significant and practical contribution to reducing our carbon dioxide emissions," which help cause global warming.
The government has pledged to obtain 15 percent of all Britain's energy from renewables such as wind and wave power by 2020.
Investing in Britain's wind
"Our island has one of the best wind energy resources in Europe and today’s news shows we’re creating the right conditions for the energy industry to invest in harnessing it," Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said.
"This is one of the strongest signals yet that the UK is locked irreversibly into a low carbon, energy secure, prosperous future."
The exclusive rights to develop the offshore wind farms were granted by Crown Estate, which owns Britain's coastal seabeds. The projects will now go through the planning system.
The value of the deals was not disclosed although Spanish business paper elEconomista said the bid won jointly by Vattenfall and Spanish energy group Iberdrola Renovables could be worth about 20 billion EUR (28.5 billion USD).
Iberdrola Renovables made the bid through its affiliate ScottishPower Renewables for a wind farm in the North Sea which has capacity of 7,200 megawatts, it said.
AFP / Expatica