John Hutton announces plans for 4000 onshore wind turbines as part of renewable energy strategy

Wind power was put at the heart of an ambitious green energy programme published by the government today.

John Hutton

The long-awaited renewable energy strategy, announced by secretary of state for business John Hutton, outlined plans for around 4000 onshore wind turbines plus a 30-fold increase in offshore generation.

Proposals to offer incentives to encourage homeowners to install micro-generation technologies were also unveiled. More details on this are expected later in the summer.

The programme, which has an estimated cost of £100bn over 12 years, is the clearest indication yet of how the government intends to meet its green technology goals. Under an EU-mandated target, Britain is committed to getting 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The strategy says this goal is achievable if there is a “very rapid response” from suppliers.

Hutton said: “We are opening a new chapter in Britain's history as a nation of enterprise and innovation, moving from the old, carbon intensive economy of the industrial revolution to the new low carbon technologies of the 21st century.

“This vast expansion of renewable energy marks an important moment in this journey and, alongside our plans for new nuclear and clean coal, will play a crucial role in tackling climate change and reducing our dependency on oil and gas.”

Proposals to encourage homeowners to generate their own power by allowing them to sell electricity back to the grid at premium prices were also revealed.

Other ideas to be outlined in the document include boosting biomass capacity to cover 30 per cent of electricity and heat generation by 2020.

The government is estimating that the programme could create as many as 160,000 jobs.

Responding to the announcement Jonathon Porritt, chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, said: "It is essential that we take urgent, bold and decisive action in the UK to transform the proportion of energy we source from renewables. In part this is a technical challenge, but it is even more about hearts and minds.”

Responses to the consultation are expected be published in Spring, 2009.

PS: Click here to see what the Government's proposed revolution could mean to native English woodlands if done right.