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UK signs up to Europe’s first offshore wind grid

Nine countries including the UK signed up to develop an integrated offshore grid in the North and Irish Seas today, as £5M of new grants were awarded for offshore wind technology research and a Renewable Energy Expert Chair was appointed by the government.

In the margins of the Energy Council meeting in Brussels, Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Hunt signed the agreement along with ministers from Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland.

A grid spanning European waters should make supplies of electricity more secure for the participating countries by making it easier to optimise offshore wind electricity production . It will also help the EU as a whole to meet its renewable energy target for 2020.

“Today’s announcements bring new funding and expert direction to grow this vital new industry.”

Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Hunt

Lord Hunt also announced the next round of Low Carbon Energy demonstration capital grants for Vestas, Clipper and Mitsubishi, and also the appointment of Professor Bernard Bulkin as the expert chair of the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) Office for Renewable Energy Deployment (ORED).

Vestas will receive £1.75 million from the Government and a further £1.75 Million from the South East England Development Agency, in addition to £6 million already awarded.

Vestas have announced today that with the award of their grant they will be going ahead with their R&D facility on the Isle of Wight. Vestas currently employ 160 on the Isle of Wight. By the time they open the technology centre in 2011 they expect this to grow to over 200 and then to nearly 400 over the following years.

Leading development

“This award is good news for the UK’s position in the offshore wind market.  Vestas is a key employer offering high value jobs and we are keen to retain them at the heart of the Isle of Wight’s centre of excellence in advance composite materials,” said SEEDA chief executive Pam Alexander. “The R&D centre will shortly be leading the development of new off shore wind technologies for the rest of the world.”

On his appointment as expert Chair to ORED Professor Bulkin said the role would be “challenging”. “We need to move to low carbon energy supplies in order to combat climate change and achieving our renewables targets for 2020 are a key part of that. I am looking forward to getting started at DECC,” he said.

Lord Hunt commented: “We’re already the world leader in offshore wind here in the UK and today’s announcements bring new funding and expert direction to grow this vital new industry. They also mean we can work with other countries in the EU to increase our renewable energy supplies.”

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