Offshore Wind Getty

U.K. Prime Minister Announces Plans to Build Back Greener After COVID-19

Oct. 8, 2020
Plans to make the United Kingdom a world leader in clean wind energy — creating jobs, slashing carbon emissions, boosting exports.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, has set out new plans to build back greener by making the United Kingdom a world leader in clean wind energy — creating jobs, slashing carbon emissions, and boosting exports.

£160 million (US$206.7 million) will be made available to upgrade ports and infrastructure across communities like in Teesside and Humber in Northern England, Scotland, and Wales to hugely increase the country's offshore wind capacity, which currently meets 10% of the country's electricity demand.

This new investment will see around 2000 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 United Kingdom.

Through this, U.K. 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, while also supporting low-carbon supply chains.

The prime minister has also set out further commitments to ensure that, within the decade, the United Kingdom will be at the forefront of the green industrial revolution, as it accelerates its progress toward 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 30 GW target to 40 GW.
  • Creating a new target for floating offshore wind to deliver 1 GW of energy by 2030, which is over 15 times the current volumes worldwide. Building on the strengths of the North Sea, this 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 — 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 10-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 United Kingdom's path to net-zero by 2050.

"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 toward net-zero emissions by 2050," said Johnson. "This sets us on our path toward a green industrial revolution, which will provide tens of thousands of highly-skilled jobs."

Together with planned stringent requirements on supporting U.K. 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 United Kingdom.

The recent 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.

The United Kingdom has the largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world, with around 10 GW in operation off its coasts. The government's plan for renewable energy forms part of wider efforts to ensure the United Kingdom meets its legally binding target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and build back greener from the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past decade, the United Kingdom has significantly cut carbon emissions — in 2019, U.K. emissions were 42% lower than in 1990.

Alok Sharma, business and energy secretary, said: "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."

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