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United Kingdom

Seven UK projects move ahead

Capital grants worth £42 million have been awarded to five offshore wind projects by the British government. The grants represent the final green light for developers to proceed with the projects which are among the UK's first round of offshore wind farms. Eighteen wind projects -- each of 30 turbines -- secured site leases in 2001 from the landlord of the seabed, the Crown Estate.

The government is to grant £10 million to Warwick Offshore Wind for its Barrow wind farm off Cumbria; £10 million goes to GREP UK Marine, a subsidiary of NEG Micon, for its Kentish Flats project in the Thames estuary; £4 million to National Wind Power for Rhyl Flats off north Wales, adjacent to its more advanced North Hoyle offshore wind farm; and £9 million each for Offshore Energy Resources and Solway Offshore -- both subsidiaries of Babcock and Brown, for the twin site 60-turbine Robin Rigg wind farm in the Solway Firth.

The projects bring to seven the number of British offshore sites that look certain to go ahead. Construction has begun on works associated with the first two. Energy minister Brian Wilson says he wants British companies secure a high percentage of the contracts for manufacture and construction.

Wilson told the British Wind Energy Association's offshore wind conference in London that the government is to make available an extra £40 million of capital grant funding for offshore wind.

This is in addition to some unallocated capital grants funds left in government coffers from the £74 million it initially pledged to offshore wind. Wilson said there is "some flexibility" in the government's capital grants program. "Around £60 million is in there, so the cupboard is not yet bare," he said. "But as long as [offshore wind] needs capital grant support, that will be available." The government's aim is to bring offshore wind to the market position of onshore wind, he said.

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