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UK goes green with gassy offshore wind farm

Environmental indigestion?

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As the UK becomes only the seventh nation to have more than two GigaWatts of electricity generated by wind farms, the government has given the green (no pun intended) light to the world's first offshore combined wind and gas energy scheme.

Despite sounding like something that needs a cup of green tea to settle, we are assured that the project, sited off the Cumbrian coast, will generate up to 200MW of electricity, almost half of which will be generated by wind turbines.

The development will see 30 turbines being installed offshore, alongside a conventional gas power station that will pick up any slack when there is not enough wind to turn the turbines. It will use gas pumped in from two fields in nearby Morecambe Bay.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) approval is still required for the pipeline from Morecambe, as planning had to be applied for separately. Pipelines and power plants fall under different legislation. The DTI notes that today's approval "does not prejudge the outcome" of the application.

Once operational, the wind farm will provide energy for around 70,000 homes, the DTI says.

The news comes just months after the DTI gave its blessing to a 341-turbine offshore wind farm, in coastal waters in Kent.

Energy minister Lord Truscott noted: "We are starting to see a real flow of approvals for energy projects in UK waters. The London Array and Thanet schemes in the Thames Estuary went through in December and the good progress continues in 2007. [This] scheme is unusual in that it will combine wind and gas power to produce continuous electricity for the region."

The project is expected to be completed in 2010, subject to planning, of course. ®

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