Offshore wind ‘could power UK homes by 2020’

Up to 7,000 new wind turbines could be built around the British coastline to provide enough energy to power every home in the UK by 2020, according to Government.

Business Secretary John Hutton revealed the vision at a conference for the European energy industry in Berlin on Monday.

Mr Hutton made much of Britain’s unrivalled wind resources though his speech was firmly focused on aspirations and possibilities rather than any concrete plan which would be implemented.

“The challenge for the government and for industry is to turn this potential – for our energy and economy – into a cost-effective reality. This will be a major challenge,” he said.

“The UK has some of the best offshore wind resource in the world, a long history of design, installation and operational expertise in the offshore environment and the skills and manufacturing capability to transfer to this exciting new sector.”

If the vision became a reality, it would mean an average of two turbines for every mile of coastline.

The secretary said that it could be possible to deliver up to 60 times as much power from offshore wind as is produced at present by 2020 – an ambitious, but not-unrealistic target.

Next year, he said, the UK would overtake Denmark as Europe’s biggest producer of offshore wind power.

The targets form the basis of a scoping document will set out Government’s expectations for future offshore wind farm sites in UK waters.

The plans have been welcomed, as might be expected, by the British Wind Energy Association.

“This is a decisive step towards delivering Britain’s share of the EU 2020 renewables target,” said Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the BWEA.

“We welcome the Government’s effort to place wind energy on a sound footing and promote Britain into a leader in this sector. This expansion will mean that by 2015 the UK’s offshore market will be twice the size of any other national offshore wind market.”

Sam Bond

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