updated 6/7/2005 1:25:51 PM ET 2005-06-07T17:25:51

London could see a quarter of its electricity come from 270 wind turbines in what would be the world's largest offshore wind farm, Shell and several energy partners said Tuesday in applying for permits to build the $2.7 billion project.

The London Array project would place the turbines on offshore platforms where the Thames River meets the North Sea around 60 miles outside London.

The turbines would generate around 1,000 megawatts and connect into Britain’s national grid to supply power for more than 750,000 homes, helping meet Prime Minister Tony Blair’s target of generating 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

Blair’s government has repeatedly expressed its commitment to offshore wind farms as a way of cutting emissions linked to global warming. As one of the windiest countries in Europe, Britain is naturally predisposed to turbine power generation.

Greenpeace Executive Director Stephen Tindale welcomed the application. “It is crucially important that we clean up the way we generate our energy in response to this (global warming) threat and that means developing renewables like wind power as fast as possible,” he said.

2011 target date
Shell said its proposed London wind farm could be built by 2010-11, if the government grants permission before the end of 2006. The plant would avoid emissions of up to 1.9 million tons of carbon dioxide every year and could make up to 10 percent of the government’s 2010 target, it said.

“This project will supply the equivalent of a quarter of London’s domestic load and will surely, once and for all, bury the myth that wind energy is insignificant,” said Erik Kjoer Sorenson, director of Core, a joint venture partner in the project. “Furthermore, it is merely the first of a number of similar sized wind power schemes that will place the U.K. market at the forefront of offshore renewable energy development worldwide.”

E.ON, another partner and the world’s biggest publicly traded utility, will own a third of the London Array project and Shell WindEnergy another third. The remaining third will be held by Core, a joint venture between Farm Energy and Denmark’s Energi E2 A/S. The partners will share the investment in proportion with their equity stakes.

More than 140 countries around the world have signed the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, which requires countries to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2012. The protocol came into effect last year despite U.S. refusal to ratify it.

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