UK Energy Minister Lord Hunt yesterday announced an extra 25 GW of offshore wind energy around the UK in addition to the 8 GW already built or planned

The boost to UK offshore wind capacity, which arose from the

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Government’s Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), allows the Crown

Estate to launch a third round of leasing for new wind farms.

Speaking

at the British Wind Energy Association conference, he said: “We’re

already the world’s number one offshore wind power. With the right

support, we can grow the industry even further, supporting tens of

thousands of high value, green manufacturing jobs.”

The

Government estimates that offshore wind, as well as supporting the UK

target of 15% renewable energy by 2020, could generate up to 70,000 new

jobs and annual revenues of £8 billion.

Any new wind farms should

also find it easier to connect to the national grid with the start of

the new £15 billion licensing regime. The new Ofgem-administered

competitive tender process could save generators around £1 billion,

says the Government.

“The Crown Estate is delighted that 25 GW

has been confirmed and also agreement on the ‘Go-Active’ date has been

reached for the offshore transmission regime,” said Rob Hasting,

director of the Marine Estate at the Crown Estate. “These are

significant milestones.”

The latest round of leasing for offshore

wind farms will take the total capacity to 33 GW by 2020 – a quarter of

the country’s electricity demand.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth welcomed the move but is calling on the Government to secure funding for further wind expansion and develop a new supergrid.

“At

last the Government is starting to recognise the enormous potential of

the UK’s offshore wind power and its crucial role in slashing emissions

and securing a national energy system based on clean, safe, renewable

energy,” commented campaigner Nick Rau.

Lord Hunt also announced at the conference that the UK would be joining the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which it had previously refused to do in case it undermined the efforts of the International Energy Agency (IEA). However, the Government has changed tack and says it will be signing the official agreement as soon as possible.

For further information:
www.decc.gov.uk/
www.foe.co.uk/
www.irena.org/
www.iea.org/

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