Offshore Wind Farm Boosts Island Prospects

by David Phillips
(North Wales)

A massive offshore wind farm proposal nine miles north of Anglesey is one of nine successful bids for licences awarded by the Crown Estate, owner of the seabed around UK waters.

The Irish Sea Zone licence was won by Centrica Renewable Energy along with RES Group, and the wind farm zone has a capacity to generate up to 4.2GW of electricity.

This is potentially great news for jobs in Anglesey and North West Wales, especially if the contracts for construction and maintenance of the wind turbine units can be secured locally.

The Prime Minister Gordon Brown pointed to how the UK was leading other countries in this key low carbon area of offshore wind energy.

Mr Brown said these new licences "provided a substantial new platform for investing in UK industrial capacity", with the potential for up to 70,000 jobs by 2020 in this sector.

In addition to the proposal off Anglesey, there are eight other licences and the total potential generating capacity is 32GW, around 25% of UK electricity needs.

"Anglesey is well placed to offer facilities which could support a coastal manufacturing hub", according to island MP Albert Owen. RWE Npower renewables, Norfolk Bank, Hornsea, the Moray Firth and Firth of Forth zones.

The largest zone licenced is Dogger Bank, with a potential for 9GW generating capacity, and the licence was won by RWE Npower renewables, Norwegian energy giant Statoil, and Statkraft.

All these windfarm zones will have to go through an environmental impact assessment and planning process and it is expected that construction will mnot start until 2014.

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