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Alternative energy is a subject that often divides public opinion. In its various forms it provides clean, efficient energy, however, questions are often asked about its effectiveness in providing power to our communities and impact on surrounding environmental areas.

There are news reports of action groups protesting against wind farm proposals, but an alternative supply to fossil fuels is needed to protect future supplies to towns and communities. This creates an intriguing debate with many conflicting views about the use of our natural resources such as the sun, sea and wind to generate energy.

The first wind farm in the UK was constructed back in 1991 in North Cornwall and continues to provide clean energy to homes in the area. It’s the aesthetics and durability, and mainly size of the turbines that have changed over time. Only a short time ago, turbines were being installed that were less than 100 metres in height, a recent project updated for an offshore wind farm known as Inch Cape (Project Id 11349546) will see 213 turbines at a height of 215 metres.

In the South West, off the coast of Poole Bay, a wind farm development known as Navatus Bay is proposed for development. (Project id 10027617). 

Further up the coast in Devon, a formal application for a £4.5 billion wind farm known at Atlantic Array (Project id 07226015) has been accepted by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS). The project will now enter the pre-examination phase where, once acceptance has been formally advertised in both local and national newspapers, members of the public will be able to register their interest with PINS and make relevant representation and become an interested party. Members of the public will be able to register with PINS between 1st August 2013 - 16th September 2013. 

The wind farm will comprise between 188 to 278 turbines (reduced from 417). Should the wind farm be built out with 3.6MW turbines the total capacity would be 1000 MW, or if built out with 5 MW turbines the total capacity would be 1390 MW.

On the back of the recent step forward the £4.5bn Atlantic Array Wind Farm has taken, during early July 2013 it was published that the European Renewable Energy Council ranks the UK 25th out of 27th states on progress towards the 2020 green energy target. It was also published that the UK is NOT currently on track to meet this target. EREC President Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes said “current growth rates are insufficient to meet the 2020 targets.”

The UK are not the only ‘state’ within this project to appear to be falling behind, there are also doubts with regards Bulgaria, Germany, Greece and Portugal. Other countries who are expected to meet their targets, and probably do so ahead of schedule are Austria, Italy and Sweden. 

Following this announcement, the Government has been called upon to confirm their commitment to achieving the 2020 target, so this could result in a surge in renewable projects being proposed and approved over the next 12-18 months.

Forecast construction starts for Utilities (large* projects up to £100 million) 

Note: Forecast prepared in July 2013
*>£100k civil projects, >250k commercial projects, ≥10 units residential    
p-provisional, f- forecast 
Source: Glenigan 

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