PM makes case for clean energy

Published on Thursday, 26 April 2012 10:59
Posted by Scott Buckler

The Prime Minister David Cameron made the case for clean energy in the UK and globally today as he addressed delegates at the Clean Energy Ministerial being held in Central London

Speaking to energy ministers from 23 leading economies, and alongside a series of government and commercial announcements, the Prime Minister said:

"There are huge challenges facing governments across the world today, and one of the most important of all is how we meet our growing energy demands in a way that protects our planet for our children and grandchildren.

With global demand forecast to increase by more than 40 per cent in the next two decades, we urgently need a more diverse, cleaner mix of energy sources that will give us energy security without causing irreparable damage to the planet.

Renewables are now the fastest growing energy source on the planet. And I am proud that Britain has played a leading role at the forefront of this green energy revolution.

Britain has gone from virtually no capacity for renewables, to seeing them provide almost 10 per cent of our total electricity needs last year. And we’ve added more capacity for renewables in the last two years than at any time in the last decade.

Our commitment and investment in renewable energy has helped to make renewable energy possible. Now we have a different challenge. We need to make it financially sustainable."

Dedicating much of his remarks to how renewable energy can move from its strong position today to become a truly global industry, the Prime Minister spoke about collaboration between government and business to drive down costs, the need to develop a global carbon price and the importance of enhanced international trading.

Announced alongside the Prime Minister’s speech:

Commercial investment

The Prime Minister highlighted the scale of renewable investment in the UK over the past year. Between April 2011 and February 2012, announcements to the value of £4.7 billion and supporting 15,000 jobs have been made in UK renewable projects across a wide range of sectors, including onshore and offshore wind, bioenergy and marine, and throughout their supply chains.

He welcomed further industry announcements today, including a major new contract let by E.ON for its Humber Gateway offshore wind farm, creation of a new joint venture to develop a large offshore wind project off the Isle of Wight, investment by JDR Cables in a significant expansion of its facility in Hartlepool, and the progression of three biomass and onshore wind projects in the UK representing over £350m of investment and as many as 800 jobs at the peak of construction (see Notes for Editors for details).

New industry partnership shaping a second energy revolution for the North Sea

The Prime Minister announced a new industry partnership bringing together key players with an interest in making the most of the North Sea’s renewable energy resource. More than twenty firms based in several different countries have signed up to a shared vision to create a major new renewable energy power centre in the North Sea and to maximise the significant opportunities that come with it. Early signatories include major offshore wind developers, manufacturers, as well as a wide range of supply chain companies (see Notes for Editors for full list of signatories).

Under the provisional name of “Norstec” – which takes inspiration from the “Desertec” solar initiative - this brings together key players who recognise the enormous opportunity offered by the North Sea. This network will come together around the time of the June RenewableUK conference on global offshore wind to discuss in more detail how the new partnership will operate.

Offshore wind cost reduction

The Prime Minister also welcomed continuing efforts to reduce technology costs. In the offshore wind sector, the Crown Estate and the industry through the Cost Reduction Task Force, is taking a detailed look at how we can reduce the cost of offshore wind to £100/MWh by 2020, for example, considering the impact of technology, finance and supply chain developments.

Two announcements aimed at reducing the costs of offshore wind were made today. A second round of offshore innovation funding – of up to £5m - targeted straight at technologies that can cut costs, is set to open for bids in May. Existing projects are already leading to jobs and investment – for example David Brown is using a £1.2m government grant to support the development of a lower weight, lower cost gear system for the next generation of offshore wind.

And the Government is working to make the absolute most of the resource - the Crown Estate today announced it will soon be exploring whether test sites can be set up in even deeper water, opening up the energy potential of a new swathe of the North Sea.

Renewables trading

DECC today published a Call for Evidence to identify the potential for and better understand the potential benefits and risks to the UK of renewables trading and inform how we may choose to move forward.

Recent analysis demonstrates that the UK has the capacity to deliver its ambition of 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 through domestic action, and the Government remains fully committed to that approach. At the same time, as recognised in the UK Renewable Energy Roadmap published last summer, there is the potential for the UK to work with our European partners on renewable energy deployment. This would allow the UK a commercial opportunity to export energy if there is a surplus of domestic generation, or to import renewable energy if required.

Call for evidence: Renewable Energy Trading

Bioenergy strategy

The Bioenergy strategy, published today, sets out an important framework for ensuring that biomass powering our homes, businesses and transport delivers benefits to businesses and consumers while also maximising the environmental benefits. It shows that by the middle of the century, sustainable bioenergy could contribute around 12% to the UK’s total primary energy demand across heat, transport and electricity. This deployment will offer economic opportunities, which we cannot afford to miss.

Today a new report by the UK’s National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials was also published. This set out that an increase in energy sourced from biomass resources for electricity and heat could support around 35,000 to 50,000 jobs by 2020.

Today also saw the announcement from Aberystwyth University Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences that it has secured funding from the UK Government to work in collaboration with industry to develop an integrated Miscanthus breeding platform. This industry-led research project will generate new plant varieties which enable the production of new feedstocks for commercialization.

The Bioenergy Strategy

Other UK announcements made during the Clean Energy Ministerial this week include:

Landmark green investment decision

Announcement yesterday by Vince Cable of the first landmark green infrastructure investment decision. A total of £80 million has been committed to two specialist fund managers - who will make and manage investments in the small scale waste infrastructure sector - by a specialist team within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. All BIS investments made by the fund managers will be match-funded, leveraging in at least £80 million more to the projects. The Government is investing directly, on fully commercial terms, ahead of obtaining state aid approval for the UK Green Investment Bank. The fund managers will be responsible for generating and managing investments in areas such as waste recycling and reprocessing facilities, pre-treatment projects and energy-from-waste projects.


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