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U.K. telecom giant announces wind-farm plan

Communications and IT services company BT hopes that wind power will provide a quarter of its electricity needs by 2016.

BT is to implement a wind-farm project that it hopes will supply a quarter of its electricity by 2016, the telecommunications company revealed on Thursday.

The company says the project could cost up to 250 million pounds ($512 million).

BT claims it is responsible for 0.7 percent of the U.K.'s electricity consumption. It already has the country's largest green-electricity contract with npower and British Gas Business.

BT is aiming for an 80 percent reduction in its carbon emissions within the next nine years--a sizeable task given that it has already been responsible for 640,000 tons of carbon dioxide this year alone. Nonetheless, it claims to have already reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent since 1996.

"There is a pressing need for industry to cut carbon in ways that make business sense," said the group's finance director, Hanif Lalani. Lalani suggested that wind energy would "play an important part" in achieving BT's carbon dioxide reduction goals, but also praised broadband technology for its role in cutting the need to travel, through telecommuting and videoconferencing.

According to BT, the wind farms could, by 2016, generate enough electricity to power a city the size of Coventry, which would be about 250 megawatts in total.

It is currently looking at suitable sites, but has already applied for planning permission for test masts at Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station in Cornwall, Wideford Hill Radio Station in the Orkney Islands and Scousburgh Radio Station in Shetland.

Wind turbines have faced considerable resistance. Opponents see the masts as a blight on the landscape.

Nevertheless, BT claimed in a statement that it is "committed to working responsibly with local communities" and that it will "ensure that they are engaged throughout the development process."

Member of Parliament John Hutton, the secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform, said on Thursday that BT's move was "a great example of how businesses can contribute and help us meet our ambitious target to dramatically increase the amount of energy we get from renewable sources."

BT possesses considerable data-center capacity, which creates much of its carbon dioxide emissions.

Data released by analyst firm Gartner has suggested that data centers are responsible for almost a quarter of the carbon dioxide emissions from the information and communications technology industry. PCs and monitors account for 40 percent of the total.

Many other technology suppliers, including Intel, Sun and IBM, are also trying to improve the efficiency of their energy use within the data center and their wider corporate infrastructure.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.