Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

Two offshore wind farm plans unveiled off Welsh coast

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The offshore windfarms that are now being planned are unlike anything we've ever seen before

Plans for two massive new wind farms off the north and south coasts of Wales have been unveiled.

The sites, one nine miles (15 km) off Anglesey and the other in the Bristol Channel are among nine new offshore wind farm locations in the UK.

Costing £100bn, the new wind farms will be on a far bigger scale than anything so far in Britain and will be further from shore than previous wind farms.

Backers say the schemes will create 60,000 jobs.

The nine chosen locations combined will be one of the world's largest wind farm projects.

One will lie between Anglesey and the Isle of Man, another between the south Wales coast and Devon and Cornwall.

But there are questions over how the investment will be raised and the cost of maintaining a power source so far out to sea.

AMBITIOUS PLANS
Iolo ap Dafydd

Iolo ap Dafydd, BBC Wales environment correspondent

This is going to be very different and on a much larger scale. It is far more ambitious than anything we have ever seen before.

The government will claim that this can provide one-third of all UK energy needs.

We have heard already how we are using far more gas in this cold winter because obviously we want to keep warm.

There are problems with the gas coming in and there is this dependency on foreign gas.

This according to the government, as well as trying to solve the energy security here in the UK and in Wales, will also be a lot cleaner in terms of emissions.

The Bristol Channel zone 1.5GW windfarm will be called Atlantic Array and be developed by RWE Npower Renewables, part of RWE Innogy.

The development will lie around 11 miles (18km) off the south Wales coast but 250 turbines, potentially each 480ft tall (146m), could still be visible.

Paul Coffey, chief operating officer of RWE Innogy, said the company was a highly experienced offshore energy developer and was "committed to developing a wind farm that is appropriate for the location and considerate of the local onshore and offshore environments".

"By developing Atlantic Array Wind Farm within the Bristol Channel Zone we will play a leading role in meeting the UK's challenging targets for generating renewable energy and reducing the impacts of climate change, while helping to improve domestic energy security in the future," he added.

Centrica Renewable Energy - part of British Gas - will be the developer of the 4.2GW windfarm in the Irish Sea, located nine miles (15 km) off Anglesey and over a 1,367 sq miles (2,200 sq km) area.

It already has an offshore windfarm off Barrow, Cumbria and the company said the new development could provide enough power for more than 3m homes.

Sarwjit Sambhi, Centrica's managing director of power generation, said: "Developing in the Irish Sea zone could dramatically increase our renewable energy output, but offshore wind is expensive to build and we will need a long-term, stable support mechanism to make these investments commercially viable for the foreseeable future."



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