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Biggest wind farm could power one in four London homes

From the Financial Times, Wednesday 8 June 2005: Biggest wind farm could power one in four London homes

By Fiona Harvey,Environment Correspondent

Published: June 8 2005

A quarter of homes in London could benefit from wind power if the world’s biggest wind farm went ahead. The planning application for the 270-turbine London Array project was submitted yesterday by a consortium of E.ON UK Renewables, Shell Wind-Energy and CORE, a joint venture between Farm Energy and the Danish generator Energi E2.

If successful, the wind farm would generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 750,000 homes, equivalent to a quarter of the homes in London or all the households in Kent and East Sussex. It would represent a 10th of the energy the government hopes will come from renewable sources by 2010.

Jason Scagell, director of E.ON Renewables, said: “It’s only through building more powerful wind farm sites such as this that we’ll be able to reach the government’s tough targets for renewable generation.”

The government has struggled with its targets on lowering emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that causes climate change. Although the UK is on track to meet its targets under the United Nations-brokered Kyoto protocol on climate change, increases in emissions from coal-fired power stations mean it is likely to fall short of its higher self-imposed reduction targets, set by Tony Blair as part of his attempt to be seen as a leader on climate change.

Shell expected gaining planning permission to take between a year and 18 months. The wind farm, which would cost £1.5bn, could be completed by 2011. The turbines would be built more than 20km offshore in the Thames estuary, equidistant from the Kent and Essex coastlines. They would be barely visible from the shore and would connect to the National Grid’s transmissions systems in Kent.

Anti-wind farm protesters have argued that offshore units can pose a danger to birds and shipping. Shell said that although the Thames estuary was a busy shipping area, the turbines would be sited away from the main routes. A recent study found that birds were good at avoiding offshore wind farms, even at night.

Environmentalists welcomed the project. Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace, said: “It is crucially important that we clean up the way we generate our energy in response to the threat [of climate change] and that means developing renewables like wind power as fast as possible. The UK is blessed with the best wind resource in Europe.”

Separately, another project to help the government meet its emissions reduction targets will be announced today. The Housing Corporation, the agency that regulates housing associations, said the 70,000 affordable homes it was building by 2008 would meet stringent environmental standards.

Using energy efficiency measures, such as better insulation and boilers, the homes will emit more than a quarter less carbon dioxide than standard new homes and save £138 in utility bills.

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