British utility Scottish & Southern Energy said on Wednesday it planned to double generation from renewable sources in Britain and Ireland over the next five years.
Chief Executive Ian Marchant said the group would initially focus on onshore rather than offshore wind and was scouting out new hydroelectric projects in Scotland, Ireland and Portugal.
SSE said it passed the milestone of 2,000 megawatts of renewable capacity in March and was now targeting 4,000 megawatts for 2013.
Marchant said the commitment had been helped by last month’s acquisition of Irish windfarm operator Airtricity and by EU leaders agreeing a timetable for tackling climate change this month.
The group plans capital investment of over 2.5 billion pounds ($4.98 billion) in green energy over the next five years.
SSE is looking for new hydroelectric projects to compliment its existing portfolio of around 1,350 megawatts, Marchant told Reuters.
“We’ll be looking at hydro in Ireland for the first time and also in Portugal … but it’s very early days,” he said. “Hydro is a good compliment to wind, as, particularly if you have a dam, it’s not intermittent.”
SSE expects its portfolio in 2013 will comprise almost 1,500 megawatts of hydroelectric schemes, around 2,000 megawatts of onshore wind farms, more than 250 megawatts of offshore wind farms, and around 250 megawatts of waste-to-energy and biomass developments.
Marchant said that for the next few years the company’s emphasis would be on onshore wind rather than offshore, which is more difficult and costly to deliver.
Britain has ambitious goals of producing 33,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind by 2020, enough to power every UK home.
“For UK Plc, you’d want to develop all the onshore first,” said Marchant. “The UK is long on targets and short on delivery.”
SSE is currently building the 100 megawatt Glendoe hydropower station deep beneath the mountains by Loch Ness in Scotland. It is Britain’s first big such scheme for about 40 years, and it is widely viewed as the last.
But SSE has also identified three other schemes in the Scottish Highlands that could only be built if the planning system changes so as to put climate change ahead of local issues of flora and fauna.
Since buying Irish windfarm operator Airtricity last month, SSE had gained a new team of renewable developers.
“I’ve said to the new Airtricity team why don’t you pick the best of these and give it a go,” Marchant told Reuters. “It’s one of the smaller ones, I think 20 to 30 megawatts.”
“With the environmental surveys, it’ll take two to two and a half years to get to the stage of even asking for consent, and then even a good consent could take a year,” he added.
(Editing by Rory Channing and Quentin Bryar)
26 March 2008
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