UK - Wind farm and tidal projects get green light


In the UK, the North East is set to become key to Britain's hopes of boosting its production of renewable energy, after E.On submitted plans to build one of the largest ever wind farms in the country and the UK government gave the go-ahead to a pilot tidal project in the Humber estuary.

However, E.On's plans must first overcome objections from the Ministry of Defence, who fear that the 83 turbines to be situated five miles off the coast of East Yorkshire will interfere with radar defences.

E.On hopes to begin building the £700m wind farm in 2010 with production of 300 megawatts of electricity in 2012. It would go some way towards helping UK Business Secretary John Hutton achieve his aim of producing more than 33 gigawatts of electricity from offshore wind farms by 2020.

The plans have been criticised as unrealistic, as the high cost of steel and other components and the shortage of vessels needed to build them send costs soaring. E.On said recently that production costs of £1m per MW for onshore wind farms doubled for offshore developments.

The UK's MoD has also indicated it will object to the plans. It is understood that the turbines can create 'clutter' on radar screens.

E.On UK chief executive, Paul Golby, said - "The next generation of large-scale offshore wind farms - such as Humber Gateway - have a vital role to play in the UK's future energy mix. This scheme will displace the emission of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide every year and will make a significant contribution to helping the government meet tough renewable energy targets.

"As part of our multi-billion pound investment strategy - not only will it make a major contribution to the fight against climate change, it will help ensure a secure, reliable and clean supply of electricity for families and businesses in the UK."

The company already operates more than 20 wind farms in the UK, although the Humber Gateway will be its largest commitment to wind power.

The UK government has given planning permission for a prototype tidal power project in the same area. Pulse Tidal's test project, which has been given £878,000 of public money, could generate up to 0.15MW of electricity from underwater currents in the Humber Estuary near Hull. The technology could be used to develop 1MW units in tidal power farms, generating up to 100MW - or enough to power 70,000 homes.

Brussels proposed in January that Britain should get 15pc of all energy from renewable sources such as the wind, sun and biomass, by 2020, compared with 1.3pc in 2005.