4 Mar 2002 – Britain’s Energy Minister, Brian Wilson today launched Renewables UK, a new government agency aimed at promoting the sustainable energy market within the UK manufacturing sector.
The unit will be based in Aberdeen and will use the experience of the oil and gas industry in order to grab a share of an estimated £:500bn worldwide industry for the UK. Speaking at a business breakfast in Glasgow, Wilson said, “Renewables UK is about maximising the benefits of the renewable energy industries to the UK in terms of manufacturing, exporting and jobs. We have a huge opportunity. Renewables UK is about ensuring that we grasp it”.
The UK government has set a target of generating ten per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. The achievement of this target is far from assured given that at present only three per cent is accounted for from areas such as wind, wave, solar and bio-energy. The recent report by the Performance and Innovations Unit suggested extending the target to 20 per cent by 2020.
The expansion of the renewables market can offer opportunities to industry. World Energy Council projections indicate that cumulative investment in renewables will be worth between £:500 billion and £:1500bn by 2020. Even a small share of that can mean a £;1bn market per year manufacturing sector. It is difficult to predict exactly what this market will mean in terms of jobs, but experience elsewhere points to the scale of the potential. There are some 14 000 people employed in the wind industry in Denmark.
The new organisation will promote the UK as a preferred location for the renewables manufacturing base and will identify and promote export opportunities. The unit will work closely with the Department of Trade and Industry’s Sustainable Energy Policy Unit and in April will publish guidance on renewables funding.
Wilson said that in the past twenty years, other European countries had gained manufacturing benefits from technologies pioneered in the UK – something he never wanted to see happening again.
“I believe that the establishment of this very focussed unit is extremely timely. The window of opportunity for the UK supply chain to take advantage of this market is wide open at present – but will not remain that way for long if we fail to grasp the opportunity.”