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Offshore Wind Power Generation Key to UK Government Build Back Greener Plan

James Kenealey morson news

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The UK government has announced that offshore wind will produce electricity for every home in the country by 2030 as part of Boris Johnson’s ‘Build Back Greener’ plans.

The plans, which follow the coronavirus pandemic and the associated impact on the economy, are set to create jobs in energy and renewables, cut carbon emissions and boost exports.

A report from the International Energy Agency in 2019 found that offshore wind could potentially generate more than 18 times of today’s global electricity demand, with the potential to generate more than 420 000 TWh per year worldwide. Some 36,000 TWh of this would be easily accessible in coastal waters no deeper than 60m. 

The report also predicts that by 2040, offshore capacity could be 15 times what it is today, having built up a cumulative investment of more than $1 trillion, driven by engineering advances including larger turbines and more efficient floating windfarms.

Floating offshore is set to account for 1GW of a 40GW target that has been set by the UK government. Consequently, £160 million is being made available for ports and infrastructure upgrades in areas of the UK where offshore wind capacity can be increased. This is expected to lead to the creation of around 2,000 construction jobs and support up to 60,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030 in ports, factories and the supply chain. The government has also made a commitment to create jobs by manufacturing the components for offshore wind in the UK.

However, this bold vision for offshore wind power in every home would cost an estimated £50billion in investment and the equivalent of one wind turbine being installed every weekday for the next decade, according to a report by Oxford-based consultancy Aurora Energy Research.

In the past 10 years, the capacity of the UK’s offshore turbines has grown from 1GW to almost 10GW at the start of 2020, and building costs have been driven down by almost two-thirds.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“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 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.”

Professor Jon Gluyas, director of the Durham Energy Institute, Durham University, said:

“Electricity generated from offshore wind is not a silver bullet for decarbonising heating nor for decarbonising transport.  It is not even a silver bullet for decarbonising power generation. The roles of geothermal energy, solar thermal, solar photo voltaic, hydro power, biomass, hydrogen production as well as improved building and insulation standards need to be part of that future. Eventually UK homes will be heated through electricity from offshore wind – but to be able to build that infrastructure through a COVID-ruined economy by 2030 – in just 9 years’ time – is a massive target,” added Prof Bikash Pal, Professor of Power Systems at Imperial College London.”

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