Plans to boost UK’s offshore wind capacity unveiled

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The Prime Minister has announced that £160 million will be made available to upgrade ports and infrastructure across communities like in Teesside and Humber in Northern England, Scotland and Wales the UK’s offshore wind capacity.

This new investment will see around 2,000 construction jobs rapidly 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.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in his announcement: “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.”

Boris Johnson (Source: Twitter)

Through this, UK businesses including smaller suppliers will be well-placed to win orders and further investment from energy companies around the world and increase their competitive standing on the global stage, as well as supporting low-carbon supply chains.

The Prime Minister has also set out further commitments to ensure that, within the decade, the UK will be at the forefront of the green industrial revolution as we accelerate the UK’s progress towards net zero emissions by 2050.

These include:

  • Confirming 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.
  • Creating a new target for floating offshore wind to deliver 1GW of energy by 2030, which is over 15 times the current volumes worldwide. Building on the strengths of North Sea, this brand new technology allows wind farms to be built further out to sea in deeper waters, boosting capacity even further where winds are strongest.
  • Setting 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.

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.

Together with planned stringent requirements on supporting UK manufacturers in government-backed renewables projects, these measures will mean the industry can reach its target of 60% of offshore wind farm content coming from the UK.

Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma commented: “The offshore wind sector is a major British success story, providing cheap, green electricity while supporting thousands of good-quality jobs.

“Powering every home in the country through offshore wind is hugely ambitious, but it’s exactly this kind of ambition which will mean we can build back greener and reach net zero emissions by 2050.”

The announcement marks the latest stage of the government’s support for renewable energy.

Last September the third round of the Contracts for Difference renewable energy auction delivered record-low prices on enough clean energy to power 7 million homes.

Earlier this year the government announced the next round would be open to onshore wind and solar projects for the first time since 2015.

Hugh McNeal, CEO of RenewableUK, commented: “The government has raised the ambition for offshore wind and renewables, and our industry is ready to meet the challenge.

“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 UK has the largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world, with around 10GW in operation off its coasts.

The government’s plan for renewable energy forms part of wider efforts to ensure the UK meets its legally binding target to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and build back greener from coronavirus.

Over the past decade, the UK has cut carbon emissions by more than any similar developed country.

In 2019, UK emissions were 42 per cent lower than in 1990, while the economy over the same period grew by 72 per cent.

Energy UK’s Chief Executive, Emma Pinchbeck, added: “The UK’s power sector has reduced emissions by nearly 70%, 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.

“The package of support for offshore and floating wind announced by the Prime Minister today takes a UK decarbonisation success story and winds it up to a scale fit for the Green Recovery, creating jobs and billions of pounds of investment.

“We need to build back better for the environment, for the economy and for communities.

“We look forward to the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan for the low carbon industrial revolution, later this autumn.”