A Scottish Council for Development and Industry meeting in Aberdeen last night was told how the UK’s renewable-energy industry was tackling the challenge of producing up to 30% of the UK’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020.
Adam Bruce, UK chief executive of wind-energy company Airtricity, said the 2020 target was challenging but he believed the industry was on course to meet the existing 2010 target of 10% of UK electricity from renewables.
Airtricity owns and operates windfarms producing more than 500 megawatts in Scotland – at Ardrossan and Braes of Doune, Stirlingshire – Ireland, and the US and has more planned.
Its most ambitious project, however, is a European offshore “supergrid”, which would bring together the latest technology in wind-power generation and electricity transmission to provide a secure, sustainable and uninterrupted supply of electricity to EU member states.
Mr Bruce said Airtricity was working with several organisations including the UK Government on a 10 gigawatt foundation project to prove the supergrid concept and the technologies to be employed.
Located in the North Sea between Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, the project will comprise about 2,000 five-megawatt wind turbines and would deliver output to all three countries.
It would cost around £1.38billion but would be capable of powering more than 8million homes.
Mr Bruce said Europe faced the prospect of being caught in an “energy crunch” within the next 20 years.
The national governments of the UK, Germany and the Netherlands should adopt the project as a preferred mechanism to provide a significant contribution to environmental targets and security of energy supply, at an economic cost, he added.
He said the project was very large by any measure and not one Airtricity would seek to accomplish alone, but, given political support, it proposed to establish a consortium to develop, finance and build the project.
Mr Bruce, formerly a lawyer with McGrigors, is also chairman of the British Wind Energy Association.
24 October 2007
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