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UK wind power industry says set for rapid growth

UK wind power industry says set for rapid growth
LONDON - Britain\'s wind power industry said this week it is poised for rapid growth over the next two years as improved financial incentives encourage companies to pour a billion pounds ($1.87 billion) into new projects.

Europe\'s windiest country would nearly triple its capacity, giving Britain enough turbines to supply a million households, or 1.3 percent of total electricity demand, said the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA).

The upturn comes after the government, which wants greater use of wind power to help slash greenhouse gas emissions, last year extended to 2015 a system of financial incentives in a bid to reassure investors and kick-start sluggish growth in the renewable energy sector.

\"The next two years will be critical for our industry,\" said Marcus Rand, chief executive of the BWEA. \"We must build up a significant head of steam so that we can deliver the build rates required to hit our national renewable targets and help in the fight to combat climate change.\"

Ministers have set a target of renewable energy supplying 10 percent of the country\'s electricity by 2010, compared up from around three percent currently. The government aspires to raise the target to 20 percent by 2020.

\"Wind energy will be the key contributor in helping us meet our national renewable targets,\" said energy minister Stephen Timms in a statement.

The BWEA said total installed capacity would rise to over 1,500 megawatts by the end of next year as developers installed both onshore and offshore turbines.

Financial services firm Ernst & Young (ERNY.UL: Quote, Profile, Research) recently named Britain the most attractive place to build wind farms, saying the government\'s move to extend incentives underlined the country\'s commitment to expanding the industry.

Even with the projected growth, Britain would still trail several other European countries including Germany, which has total capacity of about 14,000 megawatts and Spain with 6,000 megawatts, analysts said.

Last year, the UK government invited bids from companies to invest up to six billion pounds into offshore wind in the biggest boost the UK\'s green energy sector has ever seen.

The government last year also tweaked planning regulations in another move to stimulate growth in the sector.

Some projects have struggled to gain planning permission, with local residents often opposing the construction of turbines on the grounds that they spoil the landscape.

Some turbines have also been blocked due to potential interference with low flying aircraft and radar systems.

Story by Stuart Penson

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