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Major renewable energy projects approved

Words: Helen Bird
Wind turbines in ocean

Eight major renewable energy contracts, which are expected to support 8500 jobs, have received government approval.

The projects, which will include offshore wind farms and conversions of plants from coal- to biomass-powered, are said to be the first awarded under the government's energy market reforms.

According to energy secretary Ed Davey, the projects will help to power up to three million homes and attract £12bn in private investment.

Each of the eight projects will receive one of the government's Contracts for Difference, which are designed to guarantee prices for renewable energy suppliers.

Schemes that have so far been approved include offshore wind farms in Liverpool Bay and off the coasts of Moray, Norfolk and Yorkshire.

Should one of the eight initial projects fail to go ahead, another would be selected from the range of other potential projects, said Davey. He told the BBC's Today programme that the investments were 'critical' for the supply of 'secure, clean energy', which would increase by up to five per cent in the UK.

However, the measures will add two per cent to household energy bills by 2020, he added, by which time some 30 per cent of electricity is hoped to come through renewable means.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has said it expects the investment contracts for the successful projects to receive parliamentary approval in May.