14 March 2003 – A massive expansion of offshore wind was announced Monday by UK Energy Minister Brian Wilson, with the approval of plans to build 60 turbines in the Thames Estuary and in the Irish Sea off Cumbria.
Together the ‘Kentish Flats’ and ‘Barrow’ wind farms, with turbines the height of the London Eye, will bring green electricity to 180 000 UK homes.
The announcement builds on last month’s Energy White Paper, which set out plans for a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to be achieved in part by increased investment in wind power and other forms of renewable energy.
Brian Wilson said, “Britain is the windiest country in Europe and these locations provide the shallow waters currently needed for offshore wind technology. As the most commercially viable renewable power source, it is vital that we harness the energy of the wind both on and offshore now.
“These wind farms will play an important role in reaching our challenging White Paper targets.
“The benefits of offshore wind are not just environmental. It also presents British industry with a number of opportunities for job creation and investment in manufacturing and construction, especially given the many years of experience gained from oil and gas activity in the North Sea.”
Onshore and offshore wind are key growth areas for the renewables industry, while other newer technologies, such as wave and tidal power, are researched and developed.
The first wind farm for the Thames Estuary will be built on the ‘Kentish Flats’ by GREP UK Marine Ltd 8.5km north of Herne Bay in Kent. Construction is due to start in 2004.
Cumbria’s first wind farm will be built by Warwick Energy Ltd 7.5km south west of Walney Island. Work on the development is scheduled to begin in Spring 2004 for completion that autumn.