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Britain proposes massive offshore wind power investment

Government's plans to convert to low-carbon power generation would mean tripling the number of coastal wind turbines.

The British government on Monday proposed the construction of up to 7,000 offshore wind turbines to accelerate the country's conversion to cleaner power.

The proposal, unveiled by U.K. business secretary John Hutton, is meant to help achieve the European Union's goal of producing 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, according to reports.

Britain will overtake Denmark next year as the country with the most offshore wind power, Hutton said at an energy conference in Berlin.

The country now gets about 2 percent of its energy from renewable sources. The plans call for increasing the amount of wind capacity from 8 gigawatts now to 25 gigawatts of offshore winds by 2020.

Hutton said such an increase in turbine installations will undoubtedly change the coastline of Britain.

"There is no way of making the shift to low-carbon technology without making a change and that change being visible to people," Hutton was quoted saying.

In the U.S., wind is one of the fastest-growing sources of electricity, although off-shore wind is still not part of the mix in a significant way.

There have been a few large off-shore wind projects proposed, including Cape Wind in Massachusetts, which faces political and local opposition. A planned project off of Long Island, N.Y., was scrapped because it the financial benefits were not compelling enough. A Stanford University research team concluded that off-shore wind could supply 5 percent of California's electricity.

Via BBC News.