It is intended to provide up to half of the UK's electricity using wind-farms based in the North Sea, the Irish Sea and around the Scottish coast. It is envisaged to build turbines up to 850 feet high, which is 100 feet higher than Canary Wharf, each of which would be capable of powering 8,000 homes and altogether with a combined generating capacity of 33 GW. John Hutton, the energy secretary, is set to open-up the entire coast of these islands for wind-turbine installations, except for those regions deemed essential for shipping.
The plan is to have the scheme up and running by 2020, but there will still need to be fossil-fuel powered electricity generation to cope with demand on occasions when the wind does not blow, which would leave the nation vulnerable to power shortages. It is expected that the turbines will be visible from all locations in Britain, and is the subject of controversy. Presently, there is only around 0.5 GW of our electricity provided by wind-power, out of a total generating capacity of 75 GW.
According to Mr Hutton, "The UK is now the number one location for investment in offshore wind in the world and next year we will overtake Denmark as the country with the most offshore wind capacity. This could be a major contribution towards meeting the EU's target of 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020."
This should be compared with the fact that the UK is running out of renewable energy as a surge in demand by businesses has outstripped electricity provision by wind farms, hydropower and burning waste gas. Interest in cutting carbon emissions has greatly stretched new supplies of zero-carbon electricity, which is a pain for companies which have agreed to become carbon-neutral.
Clearly, we need to get the wind-farms up and running as soon as possible.
(1) "Business runs out of green energy supply," By Juliette Jowlt, The Observer: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/dec/09
(2) "Giant offshore wind farms to supply half of UK powre," By Jonathon Leake, The Sunday Times. http://www,timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3022277