By Gemma Childe on 2nd May 2012
The North Sea could lead the world in offshore wind power and become a major renewable energy hub after more than 20 companies signed a partnership agreement.
Major utilities including Scottish Power and Norway's Statoil, along with manufacturers such as Siemens, are supporting the initiative, known as Norstec.
Prime Minister David Cameron praised the partnership at a two-day summit on clean energy.
He told ministers from 23 countries: "Our commitment and investment in renewable energy has helped to make renewable energy possible. Now we have a different challenge. We need to make it financially sustainable.”
Further details about the operation of the network will be released at an offshore wind conference in London in June.
Greg Barker, the climate change minister, said earlier this week that Britain would sign clean energy co-operation agreements with Brazil, Germany, South Korea and the US as part of the international summit.
On Monday, Britain announced a partnership with America to support the development of floating wind turbines, which can tap stronger wind forces.
Britain has an ambitious target of installing 18 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind power capacity by 2020, compared with around 2GW at present.
The German utility E.ON has awarded a £736million cable installation contract to the British construction firm Balfour Beatty to connect its Humber Gateway offshore wind farm to the electricity grid.
The 230-megawatt wind farm will be located 8km off the East Yorkshire coast. Its 73 turbines will produce enough electricity to power 150,000 homes.