United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Major utility gets serious -- Huge increase in renewables

British energy utility PowerGen plans a tenfold increase in electricity from renewable sources -- costing up to £1 billion -- to meet its targets under Britain's renewables obligation. The company hopes to increase its renewable energy capacity to 1000 MW, from its present level of some 100 MW. PowerGen's Paul Golby revealed the company's ambitions in an interview with The Sunday Times, but PowerGen has since tried to distance itself from the £1 billion figure, stressing that it would not by itself provide all the investment needed.

Under its revised plans for renewables, PowerGen anticipates 800 MW of wind and 200 MW of biomass. The projects will be developed by PowerGen Renewables, a 50-50 joint venture with the Abbot Group. The wind capacity will be mostly offshore due to lack of sites and difficulties with planning consents on land. PowerGen Renewables is looking into between 400-800 MW of projects for future rounds of offshore wind farm licences -- to be undertaken with partners. One of the sites under consideration is in the mouth of the Thames, east of London, where up to 500 MW of wind plant could be accommodated on a sandbank in the outer estuary.

PowerGen Renewables already has a stake in the UK's first offshore wind project at Blyth, Northumberland, and expects to hear from the Department of Trade and Industry in early 2002 whether or not it has permission to build the 80 MW wind farm at Scroby Sand, off the Norfolk coast.

In Scotland, PowerGen has been granted consent for 24 turbines at An Suidhe near Inverary, Argyll, with a good majority of elected councillors approving the 30 MW wind farm against the advice of their planning officer who said it would harm the landscape. The proposal has a 15 year power purchase agreement under the Scottish Renewables Obligation. PowerGen Renewables expects to start project construction in spring 2003.

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