The Brown government is set to unveil an ambitious proposal to build 7,000 new wind turbines off Britain's coast by 2020, effectively producing enough electricity - 33 gigawatts - to power all of the country's homes. John Hutton, the Secretary of State for Business, will make the announcement, backed by both the Labourites and Conservatives, at a conference in Berlin.
Currently, Britain's offshore wind farm system produces around 2 gigawatts, enough to power roughly 1.5m homes; the government hopes to meet the EU's target of producing 20% of energy by renewable sources by 2020 with its planned expansion. The plan would result in a turbine being build for every half mile of coastline.
The move was praised by officials from both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who noted the expansion would constitute "nothing less than a wind energy revolution" and that it would "create jobs, boost the economy and help put Britain at the forefront in the battle to combat climate change." However, they cautioned that many challenges still lay ahead before the proposal could become reality and urged the Brown government to back their words with actions.
"If we are finally to exploit the massive energy resources we have available on this windy island, there will now need to be a revolution in thinking in Whitehall, where the energy dinosaurs have prevailed for too long. We need the Government to guarantee premium prices for clean electricity so industry can take risks to get tens of thousands of turbines built and installed out at sea."
Given that Britain is an island nation, this proposal is really a no-brainer: Let's just hope the government follows through with its commitment, which would go a long ways toward raising the profile of wind power as an efficient, viable renewable source of energy.