United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Policy framework taking sharpe

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Offshore wind turbines could generate 3.8% of the UK's projected demand by 2010, says the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). On top of an anticipated 2.2% from land based wind energy, this is half way towards achieving the government's goal of 10% of UK electricity from renewables by that year.

After the largest consultation of its members to date, BWEA has presented a set of recommendations to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on the mechanisms the government could introduce to stimulate offshore wind. The preferred system of support is an "Offshore Obligation" along the same lines as the existing Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO). The BWEA wants a separate obligation because of the sheer scale of offshore potential. It is also anxious that it is not seen as a solution to replace onshore wind.

The BWEA's offshore model requires no major legislative changes. It allows for annual orders for around 500 MW to give market stability. A pre-qualification round is also suggested to weed out those without the capacity for such large projects. Nick Goodall of the BWEA stresses this should not be seen as a "carve-up by the big boys" . He sees most projects being developed by consortia, which could allow participation by smaller companies in partnership with larger backers.

Permitting for offshore projects will be complex and BWEA is recommending a "one stop shop" to expedite the process. Any support scheme -- such as a government program possibly starting already this summer -- should be for a sizeable amount of capacity. This would help create a home manufacturing base. Projects of 60-70 MW are enisaged.

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