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experts react to approval of two major offshore wind farms

The wind farms will be located in the Thames estuary, off the Kent and Essex coasts, and could provide enough power to supply a third of London’s three million households.

Philip Wolfe, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said:

“The industry welcomed today’s announcement, but drew attention to the time it has taken to get these first ’round two’ offshore projects to consent stage. We need much faster planning and connection processes. The rate of deployment of renewable installations of all types needs to accelerate dramatically to meet our climate change and energy security targets.”

Brian Robinson, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:

“IMechE warmly welcomes this announcement. The Thames estuary is ideal for large-scale wind-power schemes because it is both windy and near to large numbers of electricity consumers. The UK has the best wind resource in Europe, but has been painfully slow in making use of that clean, renewable energy. Today’s news is a giant stride in the right direction.”

Dr Robert Gross, Head of Technology and Policy Assessment at the UK Energy Research Centre, said:

“The London Array has the potential to contribute to two important goals: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the improvement of energy security through diversity of supply.

“Although Britain has the best wind and wave resources in Europe, there are still scientific and engineering challenges to be solved to reduce costs and improve technical performance. ‘Learning by doing’ as well as fundamental research will lie at the heart of this process, which is why it is so important for offshore wind to go ahead.

“Recent UKERC research explains that wind power can make a direct and substantial contribution to cutting CO2 emissions, despite its variable or ‘intermittent’ nature. UKERC’s report also explains how such intermittency can be managed, and shows that the costs of doing so are modest in comparison with the cost of generating electricity.

“One of the report’s findings concerned the importance of wide distribution of wind developments around Britain. The London Array is particularly welcome in this regard, as it is an ideal complement to wind farms located in Scotland and the west of Britain and will assist with the management of intermittency.”

Godfrey Boyle, Director of the Open University Energy and Environment Research Unit, said:

“It’s very good news that the government has approved the big new Thames estuary wind farms. They’ll soon be providing clean, green power for a million London homes. But this should just be the beginning. As we said in the Open University’s evidence to the DTI’s Energy Review in April, offshore wind could be providing nearly a quarter of Britain’s electricity in 20 years’ time — given a bit more encouragement from government.”

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