A total of nine development zones – with a capacity of just over 32 GW – have been allocated to 12 European companies following a competitive tender.
“Today’s announcement by the British government is a significant step forward for the offshore wind industry and, once built, will multiply by ten Europe’s offshore wind energy capacity”, said Justin Wilkes, Policy Director of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “These are European companies building a European industry and generating some 45,000 European jobs.
“It takes Europe closer to exploiting the power of our seas and developing a brand new European offshore wind industry. Offshore wind is Europe’s largest untapped energy source. There is enough wind across Europe’s seas to power Europe seven times over.”
The 32 GW is part of the over 100 GW of offshore wind power currently being planned by European utilities, developers, and governments, mostly in the North Sea. Once operational this 100 GW plus would supply 10% of Europe’s electricity.
In order to connect these farms to the electricity grid, EWEA has proposed a 20 year grid development plan. This year the European Commission will publish a Blueprint for a North Sea grid. This Blueprint was described by the Commission’s 2008 second Strategic Energy Review as aiming to “interconnect national electricity grids in north-west Europe together and plug-in the numerous planned offshore wind projects”.
At EWEA’s Offshore Wind Conference in September 2009, EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: “harnessing the winds off Europe’s coasts would provide an answer to the global challenges of climate change, depleting indigenous energy resources, increasing fuel costs and the threat of energy supply disruptions.”
The companies winning the tenders for the UK wind farm development zones include Vattenfall (Sweden), EDP (Portugal), RWE and E-ON (both German), Mainstream (Ireland), Statkraft and StatoilHydro (Norway), Siemens (Denmark), and RES, Centrica, Scottish and Southern Energy, and Sea Energy (all from the UK).
EWEA is the voice of the wind industry, actively promoting the utilisation of wind power in Europe and worldwide. It now has over 600 members from almost 60 countries, including manufacturers with a 90% share of the world wind power market, plus component suppliers, research institutes, national wind and renewables associations, developers, electricity providers, finance and insurance companies and consultants. This combined strength makes EWEA the world’s largest and most powerful wind energy network.