Wind power to make North Sea the Gulf of the future

The North Sea could become "the Gulf of the future" for wind-power thanks to the development of off-shore windfarms in the coming years, according to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Speaking at the inaugural summit of the Union for the Mediterranean in Paris, Brown called on the European Investment Bank - which already has a €3bn (£2.4bn) fund to support low-carbon technology projects around the world – to increase its spending on green electricity generation in Europe.

And he urged fellow EU leaders to build an equivalent role for the Mediterranean in solar generation as part of a multi-billion pound drive for "green" renewable energy technology.

Brown joined 42 other heads of state and government representing almost 800 million people from the EU, north Africa and the Middle East for the first meeting of the new Union, which is designed to cement partnership and co-operation between Europe and the countries of the Mediterranean.

Following on from last week's G8 summit in Japan, Brown pushed his message that the world must shift away from dependence on climate change-causing fossil fuels and re-equip itself for a low-carbon future.

He will tell the summit that the years of cheap energy and careless pollution are behind us and that past reliance on oil must give way to a clean energy future.

With increases in oil and food prices causing hardship to households and businesses in the UK and throughout Europe, he will say that oil dependency poses a threat to economic stability and family finances and is not environmentally sustainable.

Pointing to wind farm developments which will this year see the UK overtake Denmark as the country with the largest offshore wind capacity in the world, Brown said that the North Sea has the potential to become "the Gulf of the future" for wind power.

And he will back proposals for a "solar plan" for the Mediterranean, which could make the region a vital source of future global energy by harnessing the power of the sun.

The EU is already working with north African and Arab states on the proposals for "sun farms" across the Sahara and elsewhere in the Mediterranean, to meet the need identified by the International Energy Agency for up to 215 million additional square metres of solar panels each year to 2050.

Because of their natural resources and position in the world, Europe and the Mediterranean have the potential to become "a global hub for low-carbon solutions", the Prime Minister said. Brown also called for greater co-operation on the development of electric cars and say that the development of green technologies has "huge" potential to create growth and jobs in countries which take early action.

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