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Wind turbines proposed under £100bn blueprint

Thousands of new wind turbines could be built across the UK over the coming decade as part of a radical £100 billion blueprint being unveiled today to boost renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Business secretary John Hutton acknowledged that the "green" power plants would cost more money and take up more land than conventional electricity generation, but said Britain had "no choice" about moving to lower-carbon energy.

Sticking to fossil fuels for electricity generation would be more expensive in the long run, because of the cost of climate change, he said.

Later today, Mr Hutton will outline measures to build up Britain's clean power supply in order to reach the EU-imposed target of producing 15 per cent of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown will signal that he is prepared to take on public opinion over green taxes, insisting that a low carbon society will not emerge from a "business as usual" approach.

In a speech in London he will say: "It will require real leadership from Government - being prepared to make hard decisions on planning or on tax for example," he will say in a speech in London.

"It will mean new kinds of consumer behaviour and lifestyles. And it will demand creativity, innovation and entrepreneurialism throughout our economy and our society."

Mr Hutton told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is absolutely imperative that we take as much carbon as possible out of the way we generate energy and this road-map that we are publishing today is the first instalment about how we think we can get there by 2020."

Launching a consultation on the Government's new renewable energy strategy, ministers are expected to say that radical steps are needed to diversify energy supplies, adding that achieving the 15 per cent target will be nothing short of a "national endeavour".

Up to half of the target will have to come from electricity, meaning a third will have to be generated from renewables by 2020, which will call for a massive wind energy building programme.

An extra 4,000 onshore and 3,000 offshore turbines will be needed.

The Government will also highlight the prospect of creating up to 160,000 new jobs by promoting more renewable energy, including making components for wind turbines and electric cabling.

Moves to speed up the connection of renewable energy projects to the national grid are also expected to be announced today to help clear a huge backlog of proposed developments.

Chairman of the Engineering Employers Federation Martin Temple said: "Moving to a low-carbon economy will create significant business opportunities for the UK, but we will need to move quickly and decisively. Businesses around the world are alive to the massive opportunities and a number of governments are making their exploitation a national priority."