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British PM calls for $200B renewable energy push

Jun 26, 2008 - The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for a $200 billion investment to reduce the nation's dependence on oil and to help meet European targets for developing renewable energy sources.

Brown proposed spreading that expenditure over 12 years as the government attempts to meet a European Union target of producing 15 percent of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2020.

"This is a green revolution in the making," Brown said in a speech at a conference on a low-carbon economy.

"It will be a 10-fold increase on our current deployment of renewables, and a 300 percent increase on our existing plans -- the most dramatic change in our energy policy since the advent of nuclear power."

Under the plans, Brown said, renewables such as wind farms would account for more than 30 percent of Britain's electricity supply, 14 percent of heating and nearly 10 percent of transport fuels by 2020. He estimated that the renewables program would create a quarter of a million jobs.

"If the government actually means it this time, then Britain will become a better, safer and more prosperous country," said John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace.

"We could create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and use less gas, and in the long run our power bills will come down. But it won't happen without real government action," Sauven said.

Renewable energy could grow to 35 percent of the nation's electricity supply by 2020, said Nick Winser, executive director of the National Grid, which owns the transmission network.

"It is a massive undertaking, and one which will require major investment in the transmission network, along with the reforms set out in the planning bill and a new offshore regulatory framework," Winser said.

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