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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 April 2006, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Region trails behind power target
Hydroelectric power
Plans are afoot for wave power schemes in the region
The South West is not meeting the government's renewable energy targets, according to a green energy agency.

By 2010 the region should be producing nearly 600 megawatts of green electricity. At the moment it is just over 120 megawatts, Regen SW said.

Wind power provides the biggest single source of renewable energy. Cornwall alone provides nearly 40 megawatts.

Hydroelectric power trails behind, but in Devon there is still nearly seven megawatts being generated.

We're not going to meet that target at this rate
Matthew Spencer, Regen SW

Electricity is also generated from landfill gas at rubbish dumps. Its distribution is much more evenly spread across Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset.

The region's environment provides a huge potential to generate power for electricity and heat. But much of that potential remains untapped, which is frustrating for those trying to meet government targets on renewables.

Matthew Spencer of Regen SW, the renewable energy agency, said: "Progress is very, very slow. We only have about 120 megawatts of renewable electricity projects off the ground at the moment.

"We're expected to get 580 megawatts by 2010, but we're not going to meet that target at this rate."

Wind turbine
Cornwall provides 40 megawatts of electricity through wind power
However, across the region, new fuel sources are just starting to come on stream.

BBC South West Environment Correspondent Adrian Campbell said: "Wave and tidal power remain an as yet untapped resource, but there is a multi-million pound plan under way to develop a test platform off north Cornwall. Companies from across the world will be trying out their wave-to-energy machines there.

"Somerset looks set to be at the centre of plans to produce fuel for cars distilled from wheat.

"But all these new technologies will need nurturing if they're to deliver their full potential."

Colin Cornish of the South West Regional Development Agency said some of the developments under way were to help improve the technology.

He said of the Cornwall test platform: "In the longer term, the potential is what we are looking at here.

"It's for companies to come in, develop their technology, and then reproduce that technology."

The 120 megawatts works out at about 2% of the region's current consumption.


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