ENERGY firms have hailed the North Sea as the "Saudi Arabia of wind power" after a report found Britain's natural offshore resources could generate the equivalent of a billion barrels of oil per year.
A major new study by Government and industry experts assessing the full potential of Britain's offshore wind, wave and tidal power capacity has concluded the fledgling industry could eventually match the output of North Sea oil, creating almost 150,000 jobs in the process.
The report's authors say their "most startling finding" is that with the necessary investment, Britain has the potential to become a net energy-producing nation in the future, selling power to countries across Europe.
Earlier this year the Government announced plans for a massive expansion of offshore wind turbines around the British coast, with around 2,500 to be constructed off the Yorkshire coast at vast wind farms near Hornsea and Dogger Bank.
The Yorkshire Post is campaigning for the huge new construction and service industry supplying the wind farms to be located in this region, at port locations along the Humber.
The new report concludes there is potential for further expansion well beyond what has been planned so far, stating the UK's total offshore capacity could power the country six times over.
The study has been warmly welcomed by Britain's renewable energy industry, which said the Government must now work to make the vision a reality.
Peter Madigan, of industry body RenewableUK, said: "This is a hugely exciting piece of research which sets out compelling factual evidence of the huge potential of the UK's offshore renewable energy resource.
"As an association we have long been saying that the North Sea will become the Saudi Arabia of wind energy, and today's oil and employment comparisons amply bear this out. Just as 30 years ago, the North Sea could be our ticket for economic growth."
The report published yesterday by the Offshore Valuation Group – composed of Government officials and major energy firms such as E.ON – is billed as "a major first attempt to put a real value on what the renewable energy resource around the coasts might bring."