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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 23:04 GMT
Germany boosts wind power
Wind farm, BBC
Germany is planning to 5,000 turbines off the coast
By the BBC's Patrick Bartlett in Frankfurt

Germany - the world's leading producer of wind power - says it has expanded its capacity by 44% in the past year.

Industry figures show Germany now has more than 11,000 wind turbines. The dramatic expansion follows the German Government's decision to phase out nuclear power.

And in a pioneering move, German companies are planning to build huge wind parks far out to sea.

Gas power station in the UK, BBC
Wind could replace conventional fuels
The European wind power industry estimates, that given the right legal and financial support, wind projects could provide energy for 50 million people in Europe in less than 10 years' time.

That would represent a major contribution to meeting the EU's Kyoto climate targets on reducing greenhouse gases.

Growing industry

Germany, by far the world's largest wind power market, is showing the way. Last year it accounted for roughly half of all wind turbines built worldwide.

Having decided to phase out nuclear power, the German Government is promoting wind energy like never before.

Though wind power now accounts for just 3.5% of Germany's energy consumption, it is expected to grow rapidly.

Turbine construction has been encouraged by a German law guaranteeing a minimum price for energy produced by wind power.

Off-shore turbines

The authorities are now considering plans for what could be a revolution in renewable energy: a plan to build up to 5,000 wind turbines off Germany's north coast.

Some would be located in open sea up to 45 kilometres (27 miles) offshore, a feat never before attempted. Since the wind is stronger at sea, the energy potential is highly attractive.

Giant wind turbines, double the size of conventional ones, are being developed for offshore use.

A pilot project has already been authorised and is expected to be operational next year, but as well as the technological challenges, the project will have to overcome concerns about shipping safety and its impact on the sea environment.

See also:

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The world turns to wind power
11 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
Ireland takes wind power plunge
09 Jan 02 | Business
Pakistan looks to wind power
02 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Europe discusses wind power
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