Boris Johnson: green recovery plan will see all homes powered by wind in 10 years
“Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle - the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands,” according to the Prime Minister.
The pledge was made by Boris Johnson at the Conservative party conference, where he laid out a multi-pronged plan to help the country “build back greener” after the coronavirus pandemic and turn the UK into “the world leader in clean wind energy”.
He said Westminster was upping its target for offshore wind power capacity from 30 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts by 2030 as part of an investment in a clean energy future that will create “hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs” in the next decade.
He compared the country’s offshore wind resource to Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves.
The move will create around 2,000 construction jobs plus a further 60,000 supporting roles, he says.
The announcement represents the first stage in a 10-point plan for a "green industrial revolution" from the government, aimed at speeding up progress towards net zero emissions by 2050.
The commitments, which include £160 million to upgrade ports and factories for building turbines in Scotland, England and Wales, are part of a package of measures intended to reduce emissions from the power and transport industries.
But the country will need to get move on to hit 40 gigawatt target for offshore wind, with only a quarter of that already installed.
Green energy leaders say the sector is ready to “meet the challenge”.
“Offshore wind is on track to become the backbone of Britain’s electricity system, providing reliable, low-cost clean power to homes and businesses across the country,” said Benj Sykes, industry chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council.
“The industry is investing tens of billions of pounds in new offshore wind projects, supporting local economies and employment in communities across the UK.
“Our global leadership in offshore wind, coupled with new support for investment in ports, will help unlock the huge opportunity for the UK to build a world-leading, competitive supply chain.”
Offshore wind is considered a UK success story, with the largest installed capacity in the world to date at more than 10 gigawatts.
More than 7,000 people are already directly employed in the sector nationwide.
The Prime Minister’s announcement is likely to have significant implications for Scotland, which is at the forefront of offshore wind with five schemes already in operation - including the world’s first floating offshore wind farm.
Together the Scottish schemes have around 1GW of installed capacity, part of a national target for 8GW by 2030.
The largest - Beatrice, off the Caithness coast – became fully operational last summer and creates 588 megawatts of electricity, more than half of all offshore wind generated in the UK.
A number of other offshore wind farms are in construction or development around Scotland – including four giant projects in the Forth and Tay – with a combined capacity of at least 2.5GW.
Scottish ministers have welcomed the Prime Minister’s vision but said it “falls short” of addressing some key issues that disadvantage Scotland, including higher transmission charges north of the border, flaws in the Contract for Difference awards and the country’s more ambitious climate target – to reach net-zero emissions five years ahead of the rest of the UK.
Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “t’s clear that a great deal more will be required from UK ministers in terms of practical action, where reserved powers apply, if we are to truly meet the scale of the climate crisis.”
Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, says investment in clean energy is “a key way to power the UK’s green economic recovery”.
She said: “All parts of the UK can and should benefit from the development of this resource and the renewable energy industry in Scotland looks forward to working alongside government to deliver jobs, investment and innovation as we move towards our ambitious net-zero targets.”
Environmentalists have welcomed the commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions but warned that careful planning of offshore energy schemes would be needed to safeguard important wildlife.
Charlie Nathan, head of planning and advocacy for RSPB Scotland, said: “Investing in renewable energy is investing in our future, and offshore wind will play an important role in tackling the climate crisis.
“We’re aware the Scottish Government is already making plans to release a new round of offshore wind projects in Scottish waters, which have the strongest winds in the UK and Europe.
“However, Scotland is also home to globally important seabird colonies, and wind turbines in the wrong place can have negative impacts on seabird populations by increasing risk of collision and displacement.
“This means offshore wind is only the right technology when we can find the right place for it and when we leave enough space for wildlife.”
Mr Johnson has previously said the country should utilise a range of new technologies - including hydrogen and carbon capture and storage - to reach net zero by 2050.
He also said the UK government was considering bringing forward the phase-out date for new petrol and diesel cars from 2035 to 2030.
The latest plans have been unveiled just weeks before the UK was due to host the COP26 climate summit, which has been postponed due to Covid-19.
The UN conference, taking place in Glasgow next November, is widely held to be the most important since the Paris agreement was set out in 2015.
It’s when nations will report on progress towards the emissions goals for the first time since the agreement was ratified.
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