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Crown Estate wind announcement is "defining moment" for Britain

The announcement of the chosen wind farm developers for Round 3 lays the foundations for Britain to become a renewables world leader, the government has said.

“This is a defining moment in the future of clean energy in Britain,” said Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “This new round of licences provides a substantial new platform for investing in UK industrial capacity.”

Brown spoke as The Crown Estate announced the successful bidders for each of the nine new offshore wind zones in waters around the UK − potentially totalling 32GW in capacity − this morning.

“This is a defining moment in the future of clean energy in Britain.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown

All selected bidders have now signed exclusive Zone Development Agreements with The Crown Estate to take the proposals through the planning and consenting stage.

The largest zone, Dogger Bank − more than 125km off the east coast of Yorkshire and equivalent in size to North Yorkshire − was awarded to the Forewind Consortium equally owned by SSE Renewables, RWE Npower Renewables, Statoil and Statkraft.

The second largest zone, Norfolk Bank − measuring 6036.8km² and almost 10% larger than Norfolk county − was won by East Anglia Offshore Wind Ltd which is equally owned by Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall Vindkraft.

The Prime Minister cited wind energy as the renewable option that will deliver the scale of emissions cuts needed for the UK to meet its targets.

Industrial success

He said the Round 3 wind farms could create up to 70,000 jobs by 2020, including 30,000 in installation, operation and maintenance. “I’m determined to do everything we can to bring those jobs to Britain,” he said.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband said the elements are being put in place for Britain to become the world leader in offshore wind. “Industrial success needs to be earned and created and cannot be taken for granted,” he said.”Today we are talking about an extra 32GW.”

“I am very confident about what the British supply chain can achieve.”

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Peter Mandelson said the announcement heralds “huge opportunities for UK companies”. The developments will create in the UK “the largest market in the world for offshore wind and with it huge opportunities,” he said.

Mandelson also said Round 3 will bring advances in turbine manufacture and engineering knowledge, equipping British engineers to win business abroad too. He emphasised the need to “get the UK supply chain moving”.

Miliband said: “I am very confident about what the British supply chain can achieve and I believe there is real commitment in those companies.”

25GW minimum

Responding to questions as to whether 32GW of wind capacity could be delivered in time to meet 2020 targets, Miliband said the targets could be achieved with Round 3 only partially completed. “It is a fast pace of delivery that we are talking about. We don’t necessarily need all of it to happen by 2020 to meet our renewable targets,” he said.

The goal is to source 15% of UK electricity from renewables by 2020. But it is thought that Round 3 generation could deliver up to 25% of the UK’s electricity needs.

However, Miliband warned that wind intermittency could prevent Round 3 farms from generating the total 32GW. “If you are talking about derated capacity it would be a lower number,” he said.

Crown Estate director of the marine estate Rob Hastings said a minimum of 25GW out of the possible 32GW is expected to be delivered. “What actually can be developed out of those 32GW we will find out when we get there,” he said.

ICE director general Tom Foulkes also welcomed the morning’s announcements. “This could be a significant export opportunity for the UK. We have the engineering expertise to deliver world-class wind farms but we must ensure progress isn’t hindered by planning delays, a lack of skilled engineers and supply chain constraints,” he said.

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