BT is planning to build a series of wind farms that will meet 25% of its UK electricity needs by 2016, the telecoms company has announced.
The £250 million project will see turbines installed on or adjacent to BT-owned parcels of land across the country, for example radio mast sites, that could generate 250MW of electricity a year.
The renewable energy produced – equivalent to the power needs of 122,000 homes or a city the size of Coventry – would cut BT’s emissions by 500,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, the company estimates.
BT, which is one of Britain’s biggest consumers of electricity, said the scheme was the biggest corporate wind power venture outside the energy sector.
The project will secure the funding from a third party, possibly an energy company, to develop the future supplies of green energy for BT, the company said. BT would commit to buying all the electricity generated from the farms.
BT currently uses about 0.7% of the entire annual electricity consumption of the UK.
Subject to suitable high wind-yield sites being found and approved, the plan is to have wind farms with a generating capacity of about 100MW installed by 2012 – equivalent to 50 wind turbines – with the remaining 150MW planned to be in place by 2016.
BT confirmed it has applied for planning permission for test masts at its sites at Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station in Cornwall, Wideford Hill Radio Station in Orkney and Scousburgh Radio Station in Shetland.
The company’s finance director, Hanif Lalani, said there was a ‘pressing need’ for industry to cut its carbon in ways that made sense financially.
Business Secretary John Hutton backed the plan, and said he hoped other companies would follow BT’s lead in cutting their CO2.
Sustainable development organisation Forum for the Future’s programme director Jonathon Porritt said: ‘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.’
© The Press Association, All Rights Reserved