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The Green Industrial Revolution: UK Government Offshore Wind Initiatives

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Despite the blows that have slowed down every sector since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Boris Johnson has continued to preserve the UK Governments ambitious environmental strategies, even announcing additional progressive and pioneering tactics which aim to ensure the UK is the first major economy to reach net zero emissions by 2050, in alignment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

The UK Government has continued to build on previous environmental strategies setting further programmes, policies and investments in the hope to achieve at least a 68 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to the UK’s previous target of a 53 per cent reduction, by the end of this decade.

Some of the UK’s largest companies have aligned their business ambitions to the UK’s pledge to reach net zero and also made remarkable investments to the cause including companies such as NatWest, SSE, Coca-Cola European Partners, Sky, Tesco UK & Republic of Ireland, Scottish Power and BT amongst many more according to the UK Government.

Whilst the UK was the first major country to legislate in response to the Paris Climate Agreement, the Government has further established its dedication to its environmental targets by making a significantly larger cut to carbon emissions than any other developed country, also creating hundreds and thousands of green jobs in the process. However, additional initiatives show the UK’s targets are far from complete as policies and programmes are set to achieve much more in the coming future.

Boris Johnson has announced a 10 Point Plan for a “Green Industrial Revolution” focusing on different renewable energy tactics to achieve a number of goals which include:

1) To produce enough offshore wind to power every home by 2030;

2) The UK to become a world leader in offshore wind in the next 10 years;

3) Create or support over 250,000 British green jobs;

4) Significantly reduce the UK’s contribution to the negative effects of climate change.

These goals are dependent upon the development of the UK’s current strengths which include:

  • Offshore Wind
  • Hydrogen
  • Nuclear
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Public Transport
  • Jet Zero and Greener Maritime
  • Homes and Public Buildings
  • Carbon Capture
  • Nature
  • Innovation and Finance
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This article will go on to discuss some of the programmes and investments the UK have committed to with focus on arguably the UK’s most evident renewable energy source, conspicuously dotted across our countryside and now growing in presence sitting off our shores – offshore wind.

The UK’s targets with specific reference to renewable energy deriving from offshore wind include the following:

Wind power is the UK’s strongest source of renewable energy and the market is ever-growing. Since 2003, there has been over 30 Offshore Wind Farms commissioned across the UK with all projects amounting to trillions of pounds of investment. Currently there are circa 7,200 individuals who are employed in the UK offshore wind market. The UK’s offshore wind capacity is currently the largest in the world and meets 10% of our electricity demand. Both employment and offshore wind capacity are set to show exponential growth over the next decade, with huge assistance from UK Government investment, policies and programmes.

Boris Johnson’s most important aim under his ‘10 Point Plan’ is to produce enough offshore wind to power every home quadrupling how much we already currently produce in the UK to 40GW by 2030 (which would be a 60% increase).

In the first three months of 2020, renewable energy made up almost half of the UK’s electricity generation beating the previous quarterly record of 39% last year, which was largely powered by offshore wind and generated 30% of the UK’s electricity in the first four months.

There is a deepening partnership between the government and offshore wind sector, which can be seen through numerous new Government initiatives. The UK parliamentary select committee have been considering ways in which the potential of offshore wind can facilitate the UK making the best and most cost-effective use of technology. Below are some of the most recent policies the government have undertaken to develop the UK’s already large market for offshore wind.

  • Contracts for Difference – In 2018 the Government set up this scheme which has successfully incentivised investment into the renewable energy sector by providing successful developers of renewable energy an easy route to contract with the government owned company ‘Low Carbon Contracts Company’. The Government owned company has used over £557m for Contracts for Difference. The next Contracts for Difference Auction will open in late 2021 with ambitions to power up to 10 million homes with low cost energy.
  • The Offshore Wind Sector Deal March 2020 – This deal provided an industry investment into the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership of up to £250m to support better and higher paying jobs across the UK with the aim to drive transformation of offshore wind generation.
  • £160m investment into ports and factories – this is hoped to manufacture the next generation of wind farms, estimated to create over 2,000 new jobs and support an additional 60,000 jobs.
  • Build Back Greener 2020 – £160m will be invested into the upgrade of ports and infrastructure across communities like Teesside and Humber in Northern England, Scotland and Wales to hugely increase our offshore wind capacity.

All policies and investments will play a significant role in furthering the reductions in offshore wind costs and the transformation and operation of wind power facilities, ultimately boosting the demand for this source of energy and putting the UK closer to achieving their goal of carbon net zero by 2050. The future for the offshore wind industry is looking very bright and reliance on fossil fuels may become a thing of the past… maybe not immediately tomorrow or the next day or even the next year but in the foreseeable future surely this is achievable?

Look our for the subsequent article in our Thought Leadership series,  ‘The Green Industrial Revolution’ which will explore how the UK Government’s focus on green energy is expected to change markets and supply chains in the near future.