Offshore wind could supply third of Europe's needs, says Greenpeace

Offshore wind could supply almost a third of Europe's total electricity demand by 2020, according to a new report commissioned by Greenpeace. The report, Sea Wind Europe, is by international renewable energy consultants Garrad Hassan. It finds that 240,000 MW of wind plant involving some 50,000 of the biggest offshore wind turbines would use a tiny fraction of the EU's seabed -- just over 3%. Building this volume of wind generation is a challenge, says the report, but is comparable to the challenge of maintaining "business as usual." Rates of installation would not be greater than growth rates already seen in the wind industry to date. Meeting 30% of Europe's electricity consumption would create up to three million jobs over the period to 2020. The cost of offshore wind, given the economies of scale, would be cheaper than coal or nuclear. Moreover, if the hidden costs of the alternatives were factored in, wind would be more cost effective than all conventional power. But, concludes the report, this level of offshore capacity needs the right policies. EU action is needed to encourage financial institutions to invest in very large offshore wind projects and for the development of an electricity grid capable of getting the offshore wind generation to consumers. Greenpeace commissioned the report to feed into the international renewable energy conference in Bonn in June. It calls on the EU for an ambitious renewable energy target for 2020, increased R&D support for offshore wind and other renewables, and the redirection of subsidies away from coal, gas and nuclear.

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