Every British home to be powered by offshore wind

Posted in June 2009

Lord Hunt, the Energy Minister, announced proposals on Wednesday to use offshore wind farms to provide enough power for millions of homes by 2020.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change would provide £15 billion to connect the new turbines to the national grid.
But Dr John Constable, Research Director at the Renewable Energy Foundation, said the grid was not designed to take so much “uncontrollable” electricity, which varied greatly with the level of wind.
He said also that it would be impossible to get the turbines built in time because of a shortage of equipment.
Environmental groups said the grid would need to be upgraded in order to handle such a large amount of power.
Britain already has eight gigawatts of wind-powered generation capacity that is either built or in the planning stage, enough to supply up to five million homes. The plan for an extra 25GW would create enough capacity to supply every home in Britain.
The 7,000 turbines would be in addition to 210 already in place offshore and more than 2,000 on land.
On Wednesday, the bidding process began for energy companies to lease sites, including Dogger Bank, in the North Sea; west of the Isle of Wight in the Channel, and the Irish Sea.
The Government said the investment would provide up to 70,000 jobs, but Dr Constable said Britain should only build enough turbines offshore to produce 10GW.
He said that for up to two thirds of the year, when the wind was not blowing, it would be necessary to have back-up nuclear, coal or other renewable energy sources. He also said the industry was not value for money because subsidies were needed to get the technology off the ground.
Nick Rau, of Friends of the Earth, said: “Ministers must [develop] an offshore super grid to harness offshore wind, wave and tidal power and stabilise supply and demand by connecting us to a bigger European energy network.”
Lord Hunt said he was confident that investors would come forward. “This is the moment when offshore wind is going to take off,” he said.


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