The UK’s long term energy and climate security was strengthened substantially today as The Crown Estate, owner of the UK’s coastal seabeds, granted rights to energy companies to develop the biggest expansion of wind energy ever seen in the world.
The announcement has the potential to see an additional 32 GW of wind power electricity feeding into the UK grid, on top of 8 GW from previous rounds. 32 GW is enough offshore wind energy to supply nearly all the homes in the UK and will mean an extra 6,400 wind turbines. Investment in UK offshore wind power overall could be worth £75 billion and support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020.
The next generation of offshore wind farms that will be developed under the licenses announced today will require larger and more efficient turbines, capable of generating 5MW of power.
It was hailed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband, who met The Crown Estate in London today.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:
"Our policies in support of offshore wind energy have already put us ahead of every other country in the world. This new round of licences provides a substantial new platform for investing in UK industrial capacity. The offshore wind industry is at the heart of the UK economy’s shift to low carbon and could be worth £75 billion and support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020. This announcement will make a significant and practical contribution to reducing our CO2 emissions and the Government will work with developers and The Crown Estate to support the growing offshore wind industry and help remove barriers to rapid development."
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said:
"Our island has one of the best wind energy resources in Europe and today’s news shows that there’s a huge appetite for capacity to be built here. We now need to make sure we’re poised to harness the potential that appetite brings for business for UK companies and new green jobs. We did it before with oil and gas in the North Sea and we’ll do it again for offshore wind."
Ministers including Ed Miliband will be jointly hosting events with The Crown Estate around the country that bring together developers and UK businesses.
Also announced today by the Government were £3 million of grants to further support the offshore wind supply chain. The Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills will award funding to Burntisland Fabrications Ltd (£1.5m) and Tees Alliance Group Ltd (£1.5m).
Lord Drayson, Minister for Science & Innovation, said:
"These grants are part of a package of support to ensure the UK – and UK manufacturing in particular – benefits from the innovative market we are creating. The turbines we need have not been designed yet. Our goal is to encourage their design and manufacture on our shores."
"Last month, we pledged £15m for the blade testing facility at the New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC) and further grants will follow to support this promising industry. The UK is quite simply the place to be for wind energy: we’ve got the science, the engineering, the support and the weather!"
BiFab aim to set up a manufacturing facility at the Energy Park in Fife Scotland to make parts for offshore turbines, creating an additional 300 jobs in the region.
TAG will develop a production facility at their Haverton Hill Facility in Teesside, creating up to 200 jobs.