Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out new plans to make the UK the world leader in clean wind energy – creating jobs, slashing carbon emissions and boosting exports.
£160 million will be made available to upgrade ports and infrastructure to hugely increase the UK’s offshore wind capacity, already the largest in the world and currently meets 10 per cent of the country’s electricity demand.
This new investment will see around 2,000 construction jobs created and will enable the sector to support up to 60,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030 in ports, factories and the supply chains, manufacturing the next-generation of offshore wind turbines and delivering clean energy to the UK.
The government says that through this strategy, UK businesses – including smaller suppliers – will be well-placed to win orders and further investment from energy companies around the world.
The announcement is good news for those driving our regional economies. Speaking to Business & Innovation Magazine earlier this year, Katherine Bennett, Senior Vice President of Airbus, who is also chair for the new Western Gateway (which is aiming to emulate the success of the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine), said: “South Wales and western England has long been a powerhouse waiting to happen, and has phenomenal potential to drive Britain’s cleaner, greener and inclusive future.
“We believe we could benefit the UK economy through excelling at innovation and the transition to a greener economy.”
The Prime Minister has also set out further commitments, including that offshore wind will produce more than enough electricity to power every home in the country by 2030, based on current electricity usage, boosting the government’s previous 30GW target to 40GW.
The government has also created a new target for floating offshore wind to deliver 1GW of energy by 2030, which is more than 15 times the current volumes worldwide. This new technology allows wind farms to be built further out to sea in deeper waters, boosting capacity further where winds are strongest.
It has also set a target to support up to double the capacity of renewable energy in the next Contracts for Difference auction, which will open in late 2021 – providing enough clean, low cost energy to power up to 10 million homes
These commitments are the first stage outlined as part of the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, which will be set out fully later this year. This is expected to include ambitious targets and major investment into industries, innovation and infrastructure that will accelerate the UK’s path to net zero by 2050.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our seas hold immense potential to power our homes and communities with low-cost green energy and we are already leading the way in harnessing its strengths.
“Now, as we build back better we must build back greener. So we are committing to new ambitious targets and investment into wind power to accelerate our progress towards net zero emissions by 2050.
“This sets us on our path towards a green industrial revolution, which will provide tens of thousands of highly-skilled jobs.”
Hugh McNeal, CEO of RenewableUK, the UK’s leading not for profit renewable energy trade association, said: “A green recovery with renewables at its heart will be good for consumers and jobs, as well as helping to meet our 2050 net zero emissions target. Support for new floating wind projects will ensure the UK stays at the forefront of global innovation in renewables, and provides new opportunities in the low carbon transition.
The trade association for the energy industry, Energy UK’s Chief Executive, Emma Pinchbeck, said: “The UK’s power sector has reduced emissions by nearly 70 per cent, but we know we need to go further and faster on the road to Net Zero. The energy industry will work with Government to turn our world-leading low carbon power sector into a Green Recovery for the whole economy.”
Tom Glover, UK Country Chair of RWE Renewables, which has offices in Coventry and Swindon, said: “As one of the world’s leading companies for renewable energy, committed to be carbon neutral by 2040 and to grow our renewables portfolio in the UK, RWE welcomes the package of measures to further develop UK offshore wind sector announced by the Prime Minister today. This major step further cements the UK as one of the most attractive markets for investment in offshore wind. We will work with the government and the wider energy industry to deliver these ambitions, creating thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of investment. We look forward to the Prime Minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution which we hope will include measures to overcome some of the restrictions to rolling out renewable energy even faster, such as the significant and co-ordinated investment in our grid infrastructure.”