The Crown Estate shows its full support for offshore wind power.

The Renewable Energy Centre today released a statement praising the efforts of The Crown Estate for its proactive plan to ensure the supply of 25GW of electricity to the UK by 2018 from new offshore wind farm sites.

The Crown Estate announced a new offshore development programme, which it said would accelerate the delivery of projects and bring the UK significantly closer to reaching its EU 2020 targets. In addition to the new sites The Crown Estate has, for the first time, committed to investing up to 50% of the cost with regard to gaining planning consents and this will also include funding for action regarding environmental issues, grid access, consents and supply chain in order to help speed up the delivery timescales. It stated it would not however be involved in the construction or operation of any wind farms except from its stance as landlord.

The Renewable Energy Centre stated that today's announcement was a very positive step forward for offshore wind power and hoped it would give investors confidence in the longevity of the industry. The announcement also falls in line with the projections released by the BWEA (British Wind Energy Association) that wind power will overtake nuclear power in terms of electricity supply by 2013 and that the UK would dominate the global offshore wind market by the end of 2008. The Renewable Energy Centre stated that the shift towards off shore wind power was essential if the UK was to reach anywhere near its renewable targets for 2020 but that more could be done to reduce lead times.

Even with the backing of The Crown Estate for new wind farm projects, The Renewable Energy Centre said that time was still an issue and that planning, grid access and aviation issues all still presented significant bottlenecks to projects. At best, wind farms in the new development programme announced today will only come online in 2018. The BWEA stated that they were confident lead times could be reduced to 5 or 6 years rather than 8 to 10. In order to achieve these goals action would need to be taken to ensure projects could reach fruition in much shorter timescales.

Richard Simmons, Managing Director at The Renewable Energy Centre said "I am incredibly heartened by the announcements from The Crown Estate today and the potential for the UK to utilise its renewable energy resources. However there are still so many issues which could be resolved to further push the UK towards global domination in the offshore wind industry in much shorter timeframes. This will take work and dedication but it is time for all parties concerned; the government, Ofgem, investors, manufacturers and the MOD to commit to fast and effective resolutions. We no longer have the time to wait for legislation or lengthy decision making processes to come into effect."

The Renewable Energy Centre concluded by saying that announcement from The Crown Estate today would provide new confidence in the offshore market and encourage forward planning from investors. It said the new development zones which have been identified would open up the market for major companies and consortiums to establish multiple wind farm sites within a zone and contribute to generating a secure energy future for the UK.

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