* Major utilities, manufacturers sign up to partnership
* E.ON awards offshore cable contract to Balfour Beatty
* Two UK biomass plants reach milestones
LONDON, April 26 More than twenty companies have
signed a partnership agreement to turn the North Sea into a
major renewable energy hub focusing on offshore wind power,
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron is to announce on
Major utilities, such as Britain's Scottish Power
and Norway's Statoil, manufacturers from Siemens
to Gamesa and supply chain companies are
supporting the initiative, provisionally named Norstec.
"Our commitment and investment in renewable energy has
helped to make renewable energy possible. Now we have a
different challenge. We need to make it financially
sustainable," Cameron will tell ministers from 23 countries who
are attending a two-day clean energy summit in London.
Further details about the operations of the network will be
releaved at an offshore wind conference in London in June.
Britain has an ambitious target of installing 18 gigawatts
(GW) of offshore wind power capacity by 2020, compared with
around 2 GW in operation in British waters at the moment.
German utility E.ON is also on Thursday expected
to award a 736 million pound cable installation contract to
British construction firm Balfour Beatty to connect its
Humber Gateway offshore wind farm to the electricity grid.
The 230-megawatt (MW) wind farm will be located 8 kilometres
off the coast of East Yorkshire and its 73 turbines will produce
the equivalent of electricity used in 150,000 homes.
Two UK biomass power plants also reached major milestones on
Thursday, with Helius Energy close to securing a finance deal to
fund its 300 million pound Avonmouth plant and a construction
start at the ECO2 38-MW biomass plant in Sleaford.
British Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said
earlier this week Britain would also sign clean energy
cooperation agreements with Brazil, Germany, South Korea and the
U.S. as part of the international summit.
On Monday, Britain announced a partnership with the U.S. to
support the development of floating wind turbines which can tap
stronger wind forces.