Nick BridgeCounsellor for Global Issues, Washington
I blogged recently about the potential for off-shore wind in South Carolina. So it's good to be able to switch to an even bigger UK story on the same theme (and throw in a bit of quirky British monarchical history for good measure).
First on the quirk, the seabed around the British coast used to be the private property of the reigning monarch. The Prince Regent (later King George IV) was one of the first to make the seaside fashionable in 1783 when he swam at Brighton to treat his gout, and later built the extraordinary Royal Pavillion near the seafront. These days neither the monarchy nor the Government own our off-shore waters. Instead they are managed independently by the Crown Estate who pay revenue on earnings to the Treasury and are accountable to Parliament.
Anyway, the UK is already the biggest off-shore wind producer in the world. And it has over a third of Europe's total off-shore wind potentially thanks to those huge westerly's that come in off the Atlantic. As Lord Drayson, UK Minister for Science, put it, "The UK is simply the place to be for wind energy: we've got the science, the engineering, the infrastructure, and the weather".
Last week, the industry took another major step forward when the Crown Estate granted licenses to develop 9 new off-shore wind energy zones. Together the zones have the potential to provide 32GW of energy - enough, remarkably, for nearly every home in the UK. A Texas company, Fluor Corporation, will be developing one of the zones off the coast of Scotland.
Some of our less kind critics accuse the UK Government of contributing much of the hot air at international climate change meetings. We prefer to call it political leadership. But ultimately all that leadership is about is putting a proper value on the future, and the planet, and allowing this sort of investment - the most ambitious plan for off-shore wind the world has ever seen - to take place.