Wind Energy is Helping Britain Meet Country's Green Targets

LIVERPOOL, England, Oct. 20 (UPI) — Britain is on track to reach its ambitious green energy targets, according to the country’s wind energy industry.

The British Wind Energy Association Monday announced that Britain now has 4 GW of wind power generating capacity, enough to power 2.3 million homes.

“We are on track to hit the target of 10 percent of energy in the U.K. coming from renewables by 2010,” BWEA head Maria McCafferty told the industry’s annual conference, which takes place this week in Liverpool. “And with the very large capacity offshore schemes coming in from 2015, we should get to the target of 30GW of wind by 2020.”

While BWEA hopes for wind to bypass nuclear by 2012, other experts say Britain’s long-term green energy targets are unrealistic.

Wulf Bernotat, the head of German energy giant Eon, told the London Times that he believes Britain’s target of generating one-third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 is naive.

“There is a big mismatch with what is achievable,” he said. “I think it is even bigger in the U.K. than in Germany. Politicians need to be more realistic.”

Eon has scaled down investments in renewables because state subsidies and carbon prices are not high enough, Bernotat said.

“The carbon price is too low to support any accelerated investment in carbon abatement. Every investment must deliver an acceptable return.”

Eon trough its daughter Eon UK is nevertheless backing the world’s biggest wind farm, the 1 GW London Array, which is being built in the Thames Estuary at an estimated cost of $5 billion.

And former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott says public opposition, and not market realities, is the main stumbling block for wind energy.

He told the conference that a vocal minority was trying to block the spread of wind turbines in Britain, with as much as 9 GW of wind capacity currently stalling.

“Time and time again,” Prescott was quoted as saying by British daily Independent, “we see ambitious and worthy wind turbine applications defeated by a vocal minority of landowners and NIMBYs. They hire professional consultants to delay, obstruct and ultimately defeat these applications.”

He urged London to set aside public areas where wind turbines can be built.

“We cannot let the squires and the gentry stop us meeting our moral obligation to pass this world on in a better state to our children and our children’s children,” he said. “They’ve had it their way for far too long.”

Prescott’s unusually harsh comments are reminiscent of remarks made last March by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband.

Miliband said opposition to wind farms should become as socially unacceptable as failing to wear a seatbelt or refusing to stop at pedestrian crossings. Anti-wind lobbyists had harshly criticized Miliband for those comments.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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