|LONDON - Electricity from the UK\'s first major offshore wind farm flowed ashore on Friday, welcomed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, power utilities and environmental groups as a major step forward in renewable energy.
|When it is operating at full capacity, the seventy million sterling 30-turbine North Hoyle wind farm, seven to eight kilometres (four to five miles) off the Welsh coast, will provide energy for up to 50,000 homes and a total capacity of 60 megawatts.
\"This is the beginning of mainstream wind power development and dawn of a new clean energy era for Britain,\" said Stephen Tindale, executive director of environmental group Greenpeace UK, who was present at the launch.
The project took eight months to complete, and will offset the release of 160,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year.
Energy minister Stephen Timms welcomed North Hoyle as a \"pioneering development\".
\"We\'ve the set the target so that, by 2010, we want 10 percent of our energy to be generated from renewable resources,\" he said. \"It\'s clear that perhaps as much as 80 percent will be from wind farms like this one, the first commercial large scale offshore wind farm in the UK.\"
In July, research from Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) predicted that wind power capacity worldwide might double in the next three to four years. Britain is currently issuing a second round of tenders for offshore wind farm projects.
North Hoyle was developed by National Wind Power, part of German-owned RWE (RWEG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) Innogy, Britain\'s largest provider of renewable energy.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking in a recorded address broadcast at the launch, said that a few years ago no one would have predicted the partnership between UK power utilities and Greenpeace.
\"Rolling out this first large scale offshore wind venture is a highly significant step towards achieving Britain\'s renewable goals,\" he said. \"We are on our way to a future that can be transformed by the use of clean forms of energy.\"
|Story by Peter Apps|
|REUTERS NEWS SERVICE|