'Green week' in the United Kingdom

Sept. 24, 2010 at 2:13 PM
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LONDON, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A "green" week in the United Kingdom sees Scotland boost its renewable energy targets and the opening of the world's largest offshore wind farm in England.

The 600-megawatt Thanet wind farm, made up of 100 turbines shimmering and turning off the southern English coast, is the biggest offshore wind project in the world. Its official opening Thursday meant that Britain now produces more electricity from offshore wind than all other nations combined.

British Climate Change Minister Chris Huhne said London would keep pushing renewable energy sources.

"British consumers should be able to rely on a secure, low-cost source of energy in the future, and I'm sure offshore wind will be part of that," he was quoted as saying by British newspaper The Guardian.

Britain by 2020 wants to meet at least 15 percent of its energy demand from renewable sources, up from around 2.5 percent at the moment. It has launched a multibillion-dollar push into offshore wind, with several large farms under construction.

Yet critics say the money could be better spent.

"What I am a bit worried about is the government and the previous government's infatuation with offshore wind power, which is very expensive and intermittent," Ian Fells, an emeritus professor of energy conversion at Newcastle University, told the BBC. "There are other renewables which have been starved off support and they should be going down that route."

The European Wind Energy Association contests that view. It said last year that offshore wind could farms could meet up to 17 percent of Europe's electricity needs in 2030.

In any case, renewables are getting a boost in the United Kingdom.

The Scottish government Friday boosted its green energy targets, saying it wants to meet 80 percent of the Scottish power demand from renewable sources by 2020, up from the previous 50 percent target.

The country's booming wind energy sector has led the government to boost its goals, with marine energy -- wave and tidal power -- also developing quickly.

"Scotland is estimated to have a quarter of Europe's potential wind and tidal energy capacity and a tenth of its wave resource," Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said in a statement. "Scotland is ideally placed to help lead the renewables revolution and taking account of the levels of planned investment over the next decade. I believe it is now time to aim higher and to go further."

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