43-billion-dollar North Sea wind energy plan unveiled

Nine European countries have teamed up to plan a 30-billion-euro (43-billion-dollar) sustainable energy project in the North Sea as part of efforts to address climate change and expand renewable energy, officials said Wednesday. The plan is to connect up the alternative energy projects of the nine nations to create Europe’s first renewable electricity grid through a 6,000-kilometre network.

"The aim is a rapid extension of renewable energy and its integration into an operating electricity system," said German Economics Minister Rainer Bruederle said.

The network would link the wind turbines off from the northern coast of Scotland with Germany’s solar power industry and include the wave power plants dotted along the Danish and Belgian coasts and hydroelectric dams in Norway.

It is expected to take a decade to complete the building work for the network, with the nine nations to unveil a feasibility plan later this year.

The countries involved in the project, which also include France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden, are to discuss the plan at a meeting expected to be held on February 9.

Europe’s leading energy companies, which are already constructing huge wind energy parks across the North Sea, reacted positively to the news.

"We welcome every initiative which helps to promote renewable energy and in particular offshore wind power," said a spokesman for the giant German energy group RWE.

The hope is that the nine-nation renewable power project could address concerns about fluctuations in national alternative energy sources due to weather changes.

Launching the project will also help the European Union to meet its target of generating 20 per cent of the Brussels-based bloc’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

Souerce: DPA