UK joins commitment to offshore wind power

The UK has signed up with eight other European countries to develop an offshore wind electricity grid spanning the North and Irish seas.

The UK has signed up with eight other European countries to develop an offshore wind electricity grid spanning the North and Irish seas.

The Government also announced three companies would receive a share of £5 million in grants for offshore wind technology research, including £1.75 million to turbine manufacturer Vestas.

In the wake of the announcement of funding the company, which closed its turbine factory on the Isle of Wight in the summer, announced it would go ahead with a research and development facility on the island which will employ up to 400 people in the coming years.

The plans for an integrated grid spanning European waters aim to make energy supplies more secure for the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, who have all signed up to the scheme.

It would allow electricity being produced by offshore wind farms to be used more effectively, balancing out intermittent supply and changing demand from different areas around north west Europe.

Energy Minister Lord Hunt, who signed the agreement for the offshore grid with ministers from other countries today at the margins of an Energy Council meeting in Brussels, said the scheme would help Europe meet its commitments to supply 20% of its energy from renewables by 2020.

"Talks begin today in Copenhagen on how we can cut carbon emissions worldwide. A large part of that will be continuing the domestic decarbonisation of our energy supplies by moving to low carbon sources including wind.

"We're already the world leader in offshore wind here in the UK and today's announcements bring new funding and expert direction to grow this vital new industry.

"They also mean we can work with other countries in the EU to increase our renewable energy supplies."

The grant for Vestas will be matched by £1.75 million from the South East Development Agency, and is in addition to £6 million already awarded. Clipper and Mitsubishi will receive £2.5 million and £810,000 respectively.

Rob Sauven, managing director of Vestas Technology R&D, said the facility on the Isle of Wight will allow the company to build and test the largest wind turbine blades in the world.

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