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United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Offshore up to five years away

One year has passed since the government embarked on a consultation over its proposals for energy from offshore wind turbines, yet the prospect of separate support for this new technology is looking more distant than ever. Offshore wind has been sucked into the ongoing policy making process on renewables support-and there are grave industry concerns about the emerging shape of tomorrow's entire renewables market (main story). Neither does the timetable for new support allow for a round of purchase contracts for renewables power until 2001.

No interim provision for offshore is apparent. The Non Fossil Fuel Purchasing Agency did consider launching a sixth round of the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) and offered to be as "accommodating" as possible. This offer has since faded away.

The British Wind Energy Association intends to bring its concerns over delays in stimulating the offshore market to the attention of Energy Minister Helen Liddell. "If we wait until the new mechanism is in place, and if that new mechanism does not include specific banded support, then offshore wind is five years away. If there is banded support it is three or four years away; neither is acceptable," comments Nick Goodall from the British Wind Energy Association.

Last September the Department of Trade and Industry suggested an initial round of offshore support for between 30 MW and 100 MW installed capacity under NFFO to kick-start the UK market. Since then, discussions between all involved parties have progressed on approaches to consents, licensing and environmental impacts. A further step forward was taken in January when the Crown Estate public land body issued agreements to developers to install metering equipment at five offshore sites. But at this stage the consultation was overtaken by the government's renewables review, launched in March.

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