Huge boost for offshore wind power

The Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR) has announced plans for a huge increase in offshore wind power.

Up to 7,000 new turbines could be built by 2020, producing up to 25 gigawatts of electricity.

The Crown Estate, which owns the UK seabed, has agreed to invest up to 50 per cent of the cost of obtaining planning consent for wind farm sites.

Energy firms will soon be invited to bid for sites to develop wind farms.

A total of 11 zones have been identified by the Crown Estate for wind farm development.

Consultations are expected to conclude by the first half of 2009.

The chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association Maria McCaffery said of the announcement: "This is a major step forward because the greatest share of renewable energy is going to come from wind energy and specifically offshore wind.

The EU commission has set a target of providing a fifth of energy from renewable resources by 2020.

The British Wind Energy Association says if the government set a target of 33 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020, the amount would meet all of UK households' electricity needs.

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