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Huge offshore wind farm for Norfolk  

A huge wind farm is set to be situated off the Norfolk coast as the government announced a huge rise in offshore wind power.

The site, about 25 miles (40km) off the coast, could be visible from Hunstanton to Caister. It will mean millions of pounds of investment for the region.

The government is planning up to 7,000 turbines around the country, producing up to 25 gigawatts of power – more than three times the amount of offshore wind energy already produced or under construction in the UK. The Crown Estate has identified 11 potential zones which it believes may be suitable. The development zone identified off Norfolk, outside the UK’s territorial sea limit, would be one of the biggest, although it is not yet known how much of it would be developed.

The announcement was made at the British Wind Energy Association’s conference in London today and is the third round of offshore wind developments in this country.

The Crown Estate is planning to invest up to half of the cost of getting planning permission for the wind farms, including work which needs to be done to speed up the building of wind farms. This could include work to address environmental concerns, limits in the supply chain and work to connect new wind farms to the national grid.

In August potential partners will be asked to submit expression of interest. Successful bidders in each zone will have exclusive rights to develop wind farms there. The companies involved will be chosen across the end of this year and next year, with the planning permission process due to start in 2010.

The Crown Estate will lease the seabed to wind energy companies, which will be responsible for building and running the wind farm sites. It is part of the government’s aim to help meet the EU target of 20pc renewable energy by 2020.

Rob Hastings, the Crown Estate’s director of marine estates, said: “The Government has committed to challenging carbon targets and wind energy is the only renewable technology that can deliver the required quantity by the required timescales.

“The new approach to the deployment of offshore wind that the Crown Estate have set out today requires us take an important facilitating role in which we will share developer’s risk. For the first time we will be investing directly in offshore wind farm development. We will be helping to identify suitable sites and working closely with commercial partners who we expect to make considerable capital investments in offshore wind farm assets.

“In partnership with wind farm developers, we will need to establish the best location for wind farms within the programme and gain consensus with key stakeholders to deliver each scheme.

“We need to be sensitive to other marine users and conservation interests, and we have to deliver all this in the context of worldwide competition and a limited supply of new wind turbines.”

Energy minister Malcolm Wicks said: “The expansion of wind energy is already a real success story for the UK. We will shortly become the leading country in the world in terms of the number of wind farms operating offshore.

“Government is aware of the costs and supply challenges facing the industry. It is hoped the Crown Estate’s investment and leasing programme for round three will provide developers with confidence to make investments much earlier on, like signing grid connection agreements or ordering turbines.

“We are working to reduce other barriers such as radar, shipping, grid access and infrastructure issues. We will be consulting in the summer to drive this forward even further to achieve our renewable energy targets.”

Sarah Brealey

Eastern Daily Press

4 June 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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