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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Green future rises from the sea
The huge offshore wind farms proposed by the government sound like the stuff of science fiction.

But this summer holidaymakers in North Wales have had a first glimpse of the future.

The UK's biggest offshore wind farm is taking shape five miles off the coast near Rhyl.

North Hoyle is rapidly taking shape
North Hoyle is rapidly taking shape
When the North Hoyle farm is completed at the end of the year it will provide power for 50,000 homes from its 30 turbines, each more than 100m tall.

It will be unmissable from the tourist-packed beaches - a first model for how many stretches of the UK coastline will look by 2010.

National Wind Power, which began building the 70m farm in April, says such offshore projects could play a huge part in helping the government meet its targets for renewable energy.

The firm's Karen Jones told BBC News Online: "Offshore has huge potential in the UK but the government has a pretty challenging target of 10% of power from renewable sources by 2010.

"You're going to need both onshore and offshore wind to meet that."

The offshore wind farm at Blyth was the UK's first
The offshore wind farm at Blyth was the UK's first
She says the North Hoyle plant will provide 60 megawatts of power and dwarf the Blyth farm in Northumberland.

Its two turbines provided the country's first toe in the water for offshore wind power in December 2000.

But building North Hoyle presents a huge logistical challenge.

The turbines are assembled in Scotland and shipped down to Mostyn, where they are bolted together.

In just eight months the whole farm should be complete - much quicker than a traditional power station.

Although the cost of the energy produced this way will be higher, prices should decrease as wind farms become more established, National Wind Power promises.

The firm says there has been local support for the project, and few residents see the turbines as an eyesore.

Karen Jones added: "We've had a great deal of support from the local community and the vast majority of people were in support. Hopefully it'll be a tourist attraction.

"There are quite a lot of people coming to see it. People do like the look of the turbines."

'Eyesore'

But elsewhere the appeal of the turbines has provoked greater angst.

In Porthcawl in South Wales there have been 7,000 signatures of protest against a planned farm of similar size.

Campaigners from SOS Porthcawl say the farm, three miles offshore, will spoil the landscape from their beaches.

Tourism will be hit, they say, and there will be increased noise in the town when construction gets under way.

Whether the massive developments proposed on Monday meet the same opposition will largely depend on North Hoyle, and how its residents take to joining a new era of renewable power.




SEE ALSO:
UK 'needs varied energy sources'
01 Jul 03  |  Science/Nature
Q&A: The costs of going green?
24 Feb 03  |  Business
How King Coal lost his throne
24 Feb 03  |  Science/Nature
Wind power flies high
10 Feb 03  |  Business
Wind energy expansion due
14 Jul 03  |  Wales
Go-ahead for offshore wind farms
12 Mar 03  |  England


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