Boris Johnson trails first stage in '10-point plan' for a green industrial revolution, as government confirms new £160m wind turbine manufacturing investment
Boris Johnson is set to deliver a major vote of confidence in the UK's flourishing offshore wind sector tomorrow in a bid to help the country "build back greener", confirming a new goal to provide 40GW of capacity from the sector by 2030, backed by £160m of investment in state-of-the-art turbine manufacturing.
The Prime Minister will use his Conservative Party Conference speech tomorrow to trail a hotly-anticipated 10-point plan for a "green industrial revolution" - full details of which are set to be unveiled later this year - as well as announcing a major package of support for offshore wind.
The 10-point plan 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", according to the government, and is widely expected to include new investment in hydrogen technology and carbon capture and storage (CCS), alongside an earlier ban on sales of fossil fuel cars.
Announcing the first stage of the 10-point plan, Johnson will tomorrow confirm a new increased target for 40GW of operational offshore wind power capacity to be delivered by the end of the decade, up from the existing target of 30GW by 2030, and marking a sizeable increase on the 10GW in operation today.
The higher goal is expected to support 60,000 new jobs in the sector - both directly and also indirectly in ports, factories, and supply chains - and comes backed by £160m government investment to upgrade ports and infrastructure in Scotland, Wales and North East England to help support turbine manufacturing and maintenance.
The new 40GW goal comes on top of an additional new target for 1GW of floating offshore wind capacity by 2030 - more than 15 times today's total capacity worldwide - which would allow turbines to be built further out at sea in deeper waters where winds are often stronger.
In order to reach the higher goals, the government plans to set a target to deliver up to double the capacity of renewable energy support up for grabs in the next Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction, which is set to open in late 2021, alongside "stringent" goals to support UK turbine manufacturing, it said.
The government claims delivering the new goals will produce enough renewable electricity to power every home in the country through offshore wind by 2030, meeting the average electricity needs of up to 14 million homes.
"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," Johnson is expected to say. "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."
"We believe that in 10 years' time offshore wind will be powering every home in the country, with our target rising from 30 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts," he will add. "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."
It follows Johnson's claim last week that he wanted the UK to be the "Saudi Arabia of wind power", as he promised to make a "big bet" on CCS, hydrogen, and wind power in a bid to "build back greener" from the Covid-19 crisis.
Reports yesterday suggested the PM has been forced to delay several times a major speech touting a new policy and investment package for the green economy due to the disruption wrought by Covid-19.
That speech is now expected to take place in November, with the proposed 10-point plan set to feature support for hydrogen and CCS, as well as small modular nuclear power reactors, synthetic green fuels, and the development of 'smart cities', according to the Financial Times.
Moreover, an announcement is expected imminently on an earlier target date for ending sales of petrol and diesel car sales, bringing forward the current deadline of 2035, while the long-awaited Energy White Paper could emerge as soon as this month and is finally expected to provide clarity on the governments plans for energy efficiency upgrades and nuclear power plants.
The Energy White Paper is just one of many policy documents long called for by UK industry to provide a much needed roadmap for decarbonising electricity and heating in line with the UK's net zero targets, with the National Infrastructure Strategy and Transport Decarbonisation Plan also expected to be published in the near future.
Speaking during a side event at the Conservative Party conference yesterday - which has been held online this year due to the pandemic - Business Secretary Alok Sharma gave his firmest indication yet that the hotly anticipated Energy White Paper is imminent.
"I promise you I'm going to deliver on this Energy White Paper this autumn, and as part of that we'll be looking at how do we decarbonise industry in the UK and clearly hydrogen's going to play a part," said Sharma, who is also President of the crucial COP26 climate summit which the UK is hosting in Glasgow next year.
Further details of the touted 10-point green industrial revolution plan have yet to emerge, but there has been little suggestion so far as to whether onshore wind, solar power, and home heating - several other key pillars of the future net zero economy - will secure additional support. There are also on-going concerns over the level of financial stimulus the government is willing to provide, after the German and French governments launched €40bn and €30bn green stimulus plans, respectively, this summer.
Nevertheless, environmental groups broadly welcomed the latest green policy signals. Caterina Brandmayr, head of climate at Green Alliance, said a green recovery was the best way to create jobs in every part of the UK, whole also helping to slash emissions and protect the natural world.
"The race is now on for the government and British businesses to replicate the success story of the offshore wind in electric vehicles, smart grid technology, and future-proofed homes," she said. "With the urgent need to reboot the economy, in order to protect the livelihoods of thousands of people across the UK, and with time running out for the planet, the PM's ten-point plan could not be more important."
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven, meanwhile, described the latest offshore wind support package as "a great light bulb moment" for the PM on climate action. "We now need to see the Prime Minister's newly-found enthusiasm is followed through by knocking down all the barriers that the offshore wind industry faces in delivering its ambition," he said.
Prime Minister takes swipe at 'people used to sneer at wind power 20 years ago' in speech that majors on green economy ambitions
Sustainable Restaurant Association argues diners should pay less for climate-friendly dishes, arguing tax breaks could support the hospitality sector post-Covid-19 and help drive more sustainable diets
Pure electric vehicle sales are up 664 per cent since 2016 while diesel sales are down 75 per cent through the same period, according to SMMT
But confectionery giant warns businesses need to work together to fix 'broken' palm oil supply chains that further destruction of tropical forests