* North Sea could lead in offshore wind, carbon capture
* Major utilities, manufacturers sign up to partnership
* E.ON awards offshore cable contract to Balfour Beatty
By Karolin Schaps and Nina Chestney
LONDON, April 26 Britain's North Sea has the
potential to lead the world in offshore wind and carbon capture
and storage technology, British Prime Minister David Cameron
said as over 20 companies signed a deal to turn the region into
a major renewable energy hub.
Major utilities such as Britain's Scottish Power
and Norway's Statoil, manufacturers ranging from
Siemens to Gamesa and supply chain companies
are supporting a plan to develop the offshore wind potential of
the North Sea, provisionally named Norstec.
Further details about the operations of the network will be
revealed at an offshore wind conference in London in June.
"This (will) make the North Sea again a source of investment
... (It) has the potential to lead the world in offshore wind
and carbon capture and storage," Cameron told ministers from 23
countries attending a two-day clean energy summit in London on
The Crown Estate, which manages Queen Elizabeth's property
holdings, also said it would explore whether offshore wind test
sites can be set up in even deeper water, which could open up
the energy potential of more of the North Sea.
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.
Carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) - another area
for green investment - traps emissions from power plants and
stores the carbon underground, a technology which the UK
government has singled out to help it meet legally-binding
emissions reduction targets and which it wants to support with 1
billion pounds ($1.6 billion) of public money.
The government also said this week it would establish a 60
million pound fund to support CCS demonstration projects in
Storing carbon under the sea has not been commercially
proven in the UK, even though other countries, such as Norway
and Canada, have successfully stored the gas in offshore fields.
Last week, academics said owners of depleted oil and gas
fields off the UK coast could sell carbon storage space to
neighbouring countries as pumping carbon captured from power
plants out to sea would be better accepted by the public than
burying it on land.
Cameron, who also said Britain had signed clean energy
agreements with Germany, South Korea and the United States as
part of the summit, said 4.7 billion pounds had been invested in
UK renewable projects between last April and February this
"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," he said.
In other deals on Thursday, German utility E.ON
awarded a 736 million pound cable installation contract to UK
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,
with Helius Energy close to securing funds for its 300 million
pound Avonmouth plant and a start made to construction of the
ECO2 38-MW biomass plant in Sleaford, eastern England.