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Scotland Approves Four New Offshore Wind Farms

By MarEx 2014-10-13 10:20:00

The Scottish government has given the green light for four offshore wind farms to be built which would be capable of generating enough electricity to power more than 1.4 million homes.

The approval means companies involved in developing them will be able to apply for cash in Britain's near 300 million pounds ($480 million) a year renewable subsidy scheme, Scotland's energy minister Fergus Ewing said on Friday.

The wind farms will be located off the coast of Scotland and have a total capacity of around 2.3 gigawatts (GW).

Approval was given for Mainstream Renewable Power's 450 megawatt (MW) Neart naGaoithe wind farm, Repsol and EDP Renewables UK's 800 MW Inch Cape project, and the 525 MW Seagreen Alpha and 525 MW Seagreen Bravo wind farms being developed by SSE and Fluor.

Britain plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, and is handing out subsidies as an incentive for power generators to shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon power generation technologies.

Companies must compete for the renewable subsidies through auctions, with the first due to take place on Oct 16-30.

As a part of extensive reform of Britain's electricity market the government is changing the way it supports renewable energy projects by replacing direct subsidies with a contracts-for-difference (CfD) system whereby qualifying projects are guaranteed a minimum price at which they can sell electricity.

But Ewing said the cash available for renewables was dwarfed by the subsidies being offered to build new nuclear plants.

This week the European Commission approved Britain's plans to award French state-owned utility EDF a guaranteed price of 92.50 pounds per megawatt-hour for 35 years, more than twice the current market rate, for power generated by its new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant when it begins operation in 2023.

(1 US dollar = 0.6239 British pound)

By Susanna Twidale (C) Reuters 2014.