30% wind? The UK’s ambitious new energy deal

If implemented well, officials have explained that the plan could see more electricity being generated by renewable sources than fossil fuels- for the first time in UK history! 70 per cent will be coming from low-carbon sources.

Currently, the UK’s energy is around 30% renewable (April-June 2017), and offshore wind provides around 7% of that figure, but this is expected to rise to 10% within the next year, and 30% for wind alone before the next decade finishes.

ScottishPower, which has committed to 100% green energy, was among companies to confirm involvement in this deal, which is looking to be a momentous statement in the race to cut fossil fuels out completely.

The ‘big six’ energy firm, which has the bulk of its offshore wind interests off the East Anglia coast, expects to have made a £6bn investment by 2022.

“This new sector deal will drive a surge in the clean, green offshore wind revolution that is powering homes and businesses across the UK, bringing investment into coastal communities and ensuring we maintain our position as global leaders in this growing sector,” said energy minister Claire Perry.

The deal is set to:

·         Increase the target for the amount of UK content in homegrown offshore wind projects to 60%, ensuring that “the £557 million pledged by the government in July 2018 for further clean power auctions over the next ten years will directly benefit local communities from Wick to the Isle of Wight.”

·         Reduce the cost of offshore wind projects – which have already been halved in the past two years – to help move to a subsidy-free system.

·         Introduce a new £250 million Offshore Wind Growth Partnership to develop the UK supply chain, as global exports are set to increase fivefold to £2.6 billion by 2030.

·         Boost global exports fivefold to £2.6 billion per year by 2030.

·         Provide more than £4m for British businesses to help countries such as Indonesia and Pakistan move from coal power to offshore wind projects.

·         Cut the cost of projects in the 2020s and overall system costs, “so projects commissioning in 2030 will cost consumers less as we move towards a subsidy free world.”

·         See the Crown Estate & Crown Estate Scotland release new seabed land from 2019 for new offshore wind developments.

In terms of economic gain, the government’s official site have posted that the deal is looking to:

·         Achieve at least 33% women in the total offshore wind workforce by 2030

·         Triple highly-skilled jobs to 27,000 by 2030 through a new skills package for offshore wind employees

·         Become a global leader in renewables with more investment potential than any other country in the world as part of the modern Industrial Strategy

“The move to a cleaner, greener economy is outlined in our modern Industrial Strategy as one of the greatest economic opportunities of our time,” said Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry. “Working with the offshore wind industry, I want to ensure that women and young people benefit from this sea-change.

Energy UK’s chief executive, Lawrence Slade, has said that the deal should hopefully “further cement the UK’s position as a world-leader in offshore wind”.

“The offshore wind industry has been a great success story for the UK, bringing thousands of skilled jobs and billions in investment while delivering clean energy at an ever-falling cost to customers.”

Industry body RenewableUK said the deal was about creating new opportunities for the wide group of demographics looking to get into this sector.

However, with this leap of faith, there is always uncertainty. John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, has said that there may be some work needed to be fully self-sustainable without fossil fuels.

“The government’s plans for a fleet of new nuclear reactors has collapsed. This leaves Britain with a big energy gap in the future.

“It means the government’s latest offshore wind target of 30 gigawatts by 2030 is woefully inadequate.

“Renewable power now presents the best opportunity for cheaper, cleaner and faster decarbonisation.

“Wind and solar must be tripled between now and 2030, with offshore wind the future backbone of the UK’s energy system.”

Offshore wind has become an increasingly attractive form of power, as costs have gradually decreased over time. The cost of new offshore wind contracts has dropped by more than 50% over the last two years, and it doesn’t look like slowing down.

Here’s to a new, greener UK.

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