BT has unveiled plans to develop wind farms aimed at generating up to 25 per cent of its existing UK electricity requirements by 2016. The wind farm scheme represents the UK’s biggest corporate wind power project outside of the energy sector.
The project, costing up to £250m, will bring together third party funding and renewable energy partners to safeguard future supplies of clean, green energy for BT as part of the company’s strategy to reduce carbon emissions.
BT is one of Britain’s biggest consumers of electricity, with an annual requirement of around 0.7 per cent of the UK’s entire consumption. BT’s wind farms could generate a total of 250MW of electricity – enough to meet the power needs of 122,000 homes or a city the size of Coventry. This would prevent the release of 500,000 tonnes of CO2 each year compared with coal generation – equivalent to a quarter of a million return air trips to New York.
BT is currently identifying high wind-yield sites on or adjacent to BT-owned land for development with the aim of generating power from 2012 onwards. It was confirmed today that BT has applied for planning permission for test masts at Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station in Cornwall, Wideford Hill Radio Station in Orkney and Scousburgh Radio Station in Shetland.
Subject to planning consent and suitable sites being secured, BT’s wind farms would have a total installed generating capacity of around 100MW by 2012, equivalent to around fifty wind turbines, with the remaining 150MW targeted by 2016. BT is committed to working responsibly with local communities and will ensure that they are engaged throughout the development process.
Hanif Lalani, BT Group Finance Director, said: “There is a pressing need for industry to cut carbon in ways that make business sense. BT has already achieved a 60 per cent reduction in its carbon emissions, and is committed to reducing them further to 80 per cent by 2016. Our wind energy plans play an important part in reaching that target.
“Broadband technology is already cutting the need to travel, through home working and video conferencing. This makes sense for our shareholders, and also for our staff and customers who are looking to us to work in a more environmentally friendly way.”
John Hutton MP, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform said: “Tackling climate change while ensuring we have enough energy for the future is one of the biggest challenges of our time. BT’s initiative is 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. I hope that other organisations and individuals will be inspired to match their commitment.”
Jonathon Porritt, Co-Founder and Programme Director of Forum for the Future, added: “This is an enormously significant decision for BT – and for every company that sees BT as a recognised leader on sustainability issues. It’s a substantial investment, guaranteeing very low carbon energy for BT for the foreseeable future, and precisely the kind of decisive, ambitious intervention that more and more companies are going to have to come forward with.”