Wind farms could receive �3 billion

British Gas parent Centrica has said that it could pump up to £3 billion into wind farm investments as the industry strives to meet strict new renewable energy targets.

The energy giant said on unveiling its annual results today that it is spending £300 million this year on ambitious wind farm projects and may spend billions of pounds more over the next few years.

Reports suggest that new European Union targets for renewable energy will require investment in wind power of more than £60 billion.

The UK has been set a target of sourcing 15 per cent of all its energy from renewables by 2020, which will require 33,000 megawatts of offshore wind to be built. Centrica already has wind farms in operation, buying a 50 per cent stake in the Braes of Doune farm last July to add to its existing offshore farms in the Glens of Foudland off the coast of Scotland and one at Barrow off the Cumbrian coast.

It is also investing in the development of the UK's largest wind power project, building the two 90 megawatt wind farms at Lynn and Inner Dowsing off the Lincolnshire coast, which are expected to provide enough power for more than 130,000 homes.

More developments are on the cards, with an application pending to build another farm and two remaining licences for which it can seek planning permission. If Centrica is to develop all of its licences, expenditure will total £3 billion, according to the group.

Centrica said the EU targets could mean "billions more pounds of investment in coming years on top of our existing renewables plans".

It added: "Given a generally accepted offshore build cost of £2bn per gigawatt, that would mean a £66 billion overall UK investment - or £2,600 per UK household. We need to work out what share of this Centrica will build."

The group said it is also eyeing investment in new nuclear power generation, either through an equity stake or by committing to buy power from the new plants.

Image: Centrica has tabled £3 billion of wind farm investment

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