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UK Wind Power Blasts Off With Nine New Offshore Wind Farms

LONDON, UK, January 8, 2010 (ENS) – The development of European offshore wind power accelerated today as the British government announced approval for offshore wind farm development areas with a capacity 10 times greater than Europe’s entire existing offshore wind energy capacity.

Nine development zones, with a capacity of just over 32 gigawatts of power, have been allocated to 10 European companies following a competitive tender. It is the third round of wind farm developments approved. Eleven wind farms are already producing electricity in UK offshore waters.

“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.”

Wind turbines and waves at England’s Blyth Harbour Wind Farm (Photo by McN41R)

“The offshore wind industry is at the heart of the UK economy’s shift to low carbon and could be worth £75 billion and support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020,” said Brown.

“This announcement will make a significant and practical contribution to reducing our CO2 emissions and the Government will work with developers and The Crown Estate to support the growing offshore wind industry and help remove barriers to rapid development,” the Prime Minister said.

Said Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband, “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. This is one of the strongest signals yet that the UK is locked irreversibly into a low carbon, energy secure prosperous future.”

Roger Bright, chief executive of The Crown Estate said, “We have been working very closely with government and a wide range of other interests to secure commitments from investors in offshore wind energy in the UK.”

All parties have now signed exclusive Zone Development Agreements with The Crown Estate, which has responsibility for renewable energy in UK waters, to take the proposals through the planning and consenting phase.

A series of supply chain events will be held across the UK in January, February and March to support the delivery of this growth industry hosted by The Crown Estate, the UK Government and the devolved administrations, Bright explained.

The Crown Estate belongs to the reigning monarch “in right of The Crown.” Inherent with the accession to the throne, like the Crown Jewels, it is not the private property of the monarch. It cannot be sold by the monarch, nor do revenues from it belong to the sovereign.

Neither does the UK Government own The Crown Estate. It is managed by an independent organization – established by statute – headed by a board, and the surplus revenue from the estate is paid each year to the Treasury for the benefit of all UK taxpayers.

Bright says the Crown Estate will continue to play an active role “working closely with our new partners to deliver their offer of 32 GW – which equates to a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs.”

Justin Wilkes, policy director of the European Wind Energy Association, said the projects announced today, once built, “will multiply by 10 Europe’s offshore wind energy capacity.”

Existing wind farm in the North Sea (Photo courtesy Vattenfall)

“These are European companies building a European industry and generating some 45,000 European jobs. It takes Europe closer to exploiting the power of our seas and developing a brand new European offshore wind industry,” said Wilkes. “Offshore wind is Europe’s largest untapped energy source. There is enough wind across Europe’s seas to power Europe seven times over.”

The power that will be generated by the developments announced today is part of the more than 100 GW of offshore wind power currently being planned by European utilities, developers, and governments, mostly in the North Sea.

Once operational, this 100 GW plus would supply 10 percent of Europe’s electricity. In order to connect these farms to the electricity grid, the European Wind Energy Association has proposed a 20 year grid development plan.

This year, the European Commission will publish a Blueprint for a North Sea grid. This Blueprint was described by the Commission’s 2008 second Strategic Energy Review as aiming to “interconnect national electricity grids in north-west Europe together and plug-in the numerous planned offshore wind projects.”

Speaking at EWEA’s Offshore Wind Conference in September 2009, EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said, “Harnessing the winds off Europe’s coasts would provide an answer to the global challenges of climate change, depleting indigenous energy resources, increasing fuel costs and the threat of energy supply disruptions.”

The companies winning the tenders for the UK wind farm development zones include Vattenfall of Sweden, EDP of Portugal, RWE and E-ON both of Germany, Mainstream of Ireland, Statkraft and StatoilHydro both of Norway, Siemens of Denmark, and RES, Centrica, Scottish and Southern Energy, and Sea Energy Renewables all from the UK.

Lars Josefsson, president and CEO of Vattenfall, said, “Offshore wind is a cornerstone of Vattenfall’s contribution to a better climate. Vattenfall is therefore delighted to be working with Scottish Power Renewables and we are excited about the prospect of using our wide and varied offshore wind experience gained building schemes across Europe by developing a wind farm off the East Anglia coast.”

Fully utilized, the East Anglia wind farm has potential to meet the electricity needs of more than four million homes annually.

Friends of the Earth welcomed the new approvals but said the government can do even more to loft renewable energy campaigner Nick Rau said, “Plans to build thousands of offshore turbines are fantastic news – but the Government must do more to develop the UK’s vast wind energy potential and ensure that Britain reaps the benefits of creating thousands of new green jobs.

“This country could be at the forefront of the green energy revolution, which will also slash emissions and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Rau, “but Ministers must develop a detailed and comprehensive strategy to make this safe, clean and prosperous future a reality.”

The developers who have signed exclusivity zone agreements are:

  1. Moray Firth Zone, Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd which is 75% owned by EDP Renovaveis and 25% owned by SeaEnergy Renewables – 1.3 GW
  2. Firth of Forth Zone, SeaGreen Wind Energy Ltd equally owned by SSE Renewables and Fluor – 3.5 GW
  3. Dogger Bank Zone, the Forewind Consortium equally owned by each of SSE Renewables, RWE Npower Renewables, Statoil and Statkraft – 9 GW
  4. Hornsea Zone, Siemens Project Ventures and Mainstream Renewable Power, a consortium equally owned by Mainstream Renewable Power and Siemens Project Ventures and involving Hochtief Construction – 4 GW
  5. Norfolk Bank Zone, East Anglia Offshore Wind Ltd equally owned by Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall Vindkraft – 7.2 GW
  6. Hastings Zone, Eon Climate and Renewables UK – 0.6 GW
  7. West of Isle of Wight Zone, Eneco New Energy – 0.9 GW
  8. Bristol Channel Zone, RWE Npower Renewables, the UK subsidiary of RWE Innogy – 1.5 GW
  9. Irish Sea Zone, Centrica Renewable Energy and involving RES Group – 4.2 GW

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