10 July 2003 – The UK is to proceed with a large number of offshore wind projects in order to meet its renewable energy targets, according to a report by the Reuters news agency.
A source is reported as saying that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will give the go ahead early next week for the second round of bidding for licences to build the next generation of offshore wind farms.
The government sees encouraging offshore wind as key to meeting its target of providing 10 percent of the Britain’s power from green sources by 2010, up from three percent at present.
The Crown Estate, which manages Britain’s seabed and territorial waters, said in March that 29 firms had submitted preliminary proposals for wind farms at 70 sites. Formal bids for sites will have to be submitted by mid-November with licences awarded just over a month later.
Many of the wind farms are expected come on stream in 2008, in a push the government hopes will help it meet the 2010 target.
Preparing environment studies and getting all the necessary consents will take years for the biggest projects which could have a capacity of a gigawatt, the size of a conventional power station and 10 times as big as schemes currently being built in the UK.
“These are massive projects. For a full gigawatt site, the assessment is a big job – they will need two seasons to do a bird count and then there’s the consultation period,” said the source.
A report by environment consultants BMT Cordah Limited to the DTI estimates that between four and 7.5 gigawatts of offshore wind power could be built by 2010, supplying between four and 7.5 percent of Britain’s electricity.
Industry watchers say only between two and three gigawatts of offshore projects approved in the second round are likely to be built as some schemes will hit problems such as difficulties with shipping or tough geological conditions.
The Crown Estate approved sites with a total capacity of 1.5 gigwatts in the first round in 2001.
The government has earmarked three areas as the most suitable for offshore wind – the Wash off the east coast of England, the Thames Estuary east of London and the north-west coast of England and Wales.
Britain’s first commercial offshore wind farm is expected to come on stream later this year.