“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.”
That was Boris Johnson yesterday telling (in Johnson-speak) the UK that he was backing a drive to install more offshore wind around the country’s waters.
“We believe that in ten years’ time, offshore wind will be powering every home in the country,” he said, adding that he wants to make Britain “the world leader in clean wind energy”.
All of which is actually very achievable, because the UK already is one of the world leaders in wind energy ” many would argue it is the leader.
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Britain has the largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world ” pretty much half the biggest offshore windfarms in the world are in UK waters. Of course, the country’s island geography makes it ripe for wind potential, but potential needs to be exploited and fulfilled, and it has been for the past decade.
And, no, few of the turbines are made in Britain. However, this is something Johnson hopes to remedy by investing $160 million into ports and factories with a view to turning many of them into renewables’ manufacturing hubs.
As governments have changed political persuasion from Labour to Coalition to Conservative, the country’s energy sector has steadily evolved into what I believe is the most interesting, innovative and progressive market in Europe.
The UK committed to eradicating coal and has very nearly done it. It has developed not just significant wind capacity, but also large-scale solar farms and ground-breaking energy storage. The government is investing in accelerating the next generation of small, advanced nuclear reactors and the country is also home to some of the most ground-breaking hydrogen test projects in the world.
Somewhere in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (and it’s simpler-named forerunner, the Dept of Energy), there are people who have a masterplan, stick to it, and convince the ministers and secretary of state of the day to sign away on the next developments.
Despite Brexit ” and now coronavirus and its economic impact ” the UK’s energy sector is a success story and one worth shouting about. And in what’s being dubbed his ‘lightbulb moment’, Johnson is indeed shouting about it.
If there’s a flaw in the plan to power all homes by windpower, it’s this: homes only account for about a third of UK electricity demand ” the rest comes from buildings and (especially) industry, and we need to see detail on the plans for these sectors.
This needs to be revealed in the government’s delayed energy White Paper, due to make an appearance this Autumn. Its contents need to be ambitious, measurable and deliverable, because with COP26 arriving in Glasgow next year, the climate-conscious world wants to see leadership from the UK.
Until next time,