//U.K. Offshore Wind Farms Win Approval

U.K. Offshore Wind Farms Win Approval

The U.K. moved a step closer to hitting renewable energy goals on Monday after several energy firms and consortia were given the go-ahead to develop offshore wind farms.

The deals were agreed between the owner of all the seabed within 12 nautical miles of the UK coastline, The Crown Estate, and several companies to develop wind farms on ten sites around the coast of Scotland.

It has been reported that the sites could generate more than six gigawatts of offshore wind power, which would be a significant percentage of Britain’s goal of generating fifteen percent of it’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The UK currently generates about three gigawatts of energy from wind farms. The government estimates the UK will need to generate about 28 gigawatts in this way to hit the 2020 target.

The individual companies which have succesfully negotiated agreements include Scottish & Southern Energy’s (SSE) Airtricity Holdings, Scottish Power Renewables, E.ON Climate & Renewables UK Developments, Dong Wind UK, Mainstream Renewable Power and Fred Olsen Renewables.

There were also successful joint applications involving Airtricity and Aberdeen-based energy investment company Ramco Energy Plc’s SeaEnergy Renewables unit, RWE’s Npower Renewables and SeaEnergy, U.S. civil engineering group Fluor and Airtricity.

The agreements are meant to allow developers to begin survey and consultation processes for their sites. The Crown Estate will award lease agreements for the sites in 2010, subject to completion of an offshore wind environmental study by the Scottish government.

“The award of 10 exclusivity agreements is excellent news for the companies involved, the Crown Estate and for Scotland.” The Crown Estate’s marine estate director Rob Hastings said.

SSE said its Airtricity renewable energy unit would develop offshore wind farms at four locations in Scottish territorial waters.

The proposed wind farms at Beatrice, Bell Rock, Islay and Kintyre could have a combined capacity of up to 2,700 megawatts. Airtricity linked up with SeaEnergy Renewables to win the Beatrice agreement and with Fluor for the Bell Rock deal. Airtricity holds a 75 percent stake in the Beatrice Offshore application, while SeaEnergy holds the rest.

“SSE is also seeking to play a significant role in The Crown Estate’s plans for a third round of offshore wind farm developments in zones off the coast of the UK,” SSE said.

SeaEnergy and partner RWE Npower Renewables won preferred bidder status for Inch Cape Offshore wind farm, with SeaEnergy owning a 25 percent stake and Npower Renewables holding the rest.

Image of Scottish coast at Dunbar by hay.misty on flickr under the Creative Commons license