Wednesday, September 2, 1998 Published at 02:16 GMT 03:16 UK
Changes in the wind
More turbines could soon be taking to the water
The energy minister has taken the UK's first major step towards generating electricity from offshore wind.
John Battle has launched a consultation document on arrangements for incorporating the development of off-shore energy into the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation Order (NFFO) process at a meeting of the British Wind Energy Association.
Mr Battle said offshore wind was one of the country's greatest and as yet untapped natural sustainable and pollution-free resource.
"The main objective of supporting offshore wind energy under the NFFO is to make a substantial and cost-effective contribution to future electricity needs.
"How much of a contribution will depend primarily on the environmental acceptability of offshore wind projects and the technology's cost in comparison to other renewables," the minister said.
The government has committed itself to develop renewable energy sources, wherever they have prospects of being economically attractive and environmentally acceptable.
The policy aims to:
The minister said the consultation process will pave the way ahead.
"This consultation is mostly concerned with the arragenments for a first offshore wind band in future NFFO arrangements.
"I expect this to lay the foundation for future success by establishing offshore wind as a dependable and environmentally friendly technology," Mr Battle said.
He said the announcement was far from sounding the death knell for onshore wind.
"Achieving 10% of our electricity supplies from renewable sources by 2010 will require a further sizeable contribution from the UK's huge onshore wind resource, at least as much again as what has been contracted under NFFO to date."
First project under way
Work is already under way on Britain's first offshore wind farm.
Border Wind was awarded the contract last year and began work in June.
If the project remains on target, two 750kW turbines will be in place one mile off the Northumberland coast at Blyth by summer 1999.
Civil engineer Norman Rogers said bore samples drilled from the prospective sites are being analysed, and when the results come back design work will begin.