Monday, December 10, 2007

Britain's "Energy Revolution": Wind 'Could Power All UK Homes'

London (TGW) – Thousands of offshore wind farms will power Britain by 2020, the British government announced today.

Business secretary John Hutton proposed the creation of up to 33 gigawatts of offshore wind energy.

One gigawatt can power the city of San Francisco.

The ambitious plan would require around 7,000 turbines.

"It is going to change our coastline, yes, for sure," he said. "There is no way of making the shift to a low-carbon technology without there being change and for that change to be visible and evident to people. We've got a choice as a country about, you know, whether we rise to this challenge of change or whether we stick our head in the sand and hope it's going to go away."

The plan will first undergo a ‘strategic environmental assessment’.

"We're an island nation - there's a lot of wind around," the shadow business secretary, Alan Duncan, told the Politics Show. "We should use that offshore capacity for generating electricity that's clean and secure."

The Liberal Democrat’s party welcomed the change, though saying, "Ministers need to pay households to install microgenerators and also invest in big schemes like the Severn Barrage which alone could generate 5% of our electricity needs."

Michael Rea, the chief executive of the Carbon Trust, also said that "cost reduction is now the name of the game". "Offshore wind [energy generation] is set for huge growth but this will require substantial investment before it can be realised at this scale," said Rea.

"Hutton is proposing nothing less than a wind energy revolution, but it won't become a reality on the back of a speech," he said.

"If we are finally to exploit the massive energy resources we have available to us on this windy island, there will now need to be a revolution in thinking in Whitehall, where the energy dinosaurs have prevailed for too long." "We need the government to guarantee premium prices for clean electricity so industry can take risks to get tens of thousands of turbines built and installed out at sea. "And Labour needs to drop its obsession with nuclear power, which could only ever reduce emissions by about 4% at some time in the distant future." He said Britain needed to slash its electricity emissions by 2020, "and wind power, not nuclear, should get the money and support". “That's the test, and we wait to see what government does next," he added. "There is a lot more renewable energy out there – from big wave and tidal power projects to roof-mounted solar PV panels. If we make the most of these abundant resources we could generate almost half of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020. "The government must now set out what support mechanisms it will put in place to deliver on its proposals and make the most of other renewables. It must also increase investment in the development of new renewable technology, including bigger and more efficient wind turbines." "We should also be cooperating with our European neighbours to make the most of our shared resources, for example by developing a European super-grid or large scale wind farms in the North sea."

Via :: Guardian