The government will throw its weight behind an expansion in the use of offshore wind power in the hope the renewable energy source will provide a third of the UK’s electricity by 2030.
In a deal between the government and the offshore wind sector, industry players have agreed to invest £250m over the next 11 years in exchange for participation in £557m of state subsidies for renewable energy.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the deal could result in the number of jobs in offshore wind tripling to 27,000 by 2030, boosting the economies of coastal communities near major projects.
The government also hopes the deal will cement Britain’s leading position in the technology and has set a target of boosting exports in the sector fivefold to £2.6bn a year. The UK already hosts the world’s largest offshore windfarm, off the coast of Yorkshire, which began powering the grid a month ago.
Reaching a target of more than 30% of electricity coming from offshore wind would also mean that 70% of Britain’s energy would be from renewable sources by the end of the period.
The energy and clean growth minister, Claire Perry, said: “This new sector deal will drive a surge in the clean, green offshore wind revolution that is powering homes and businesses across the UK, bringing investment into coastal communities and ensuring we maintain our position as global leaders in this growing sector.
“By 2030 a third of our electricity will come from offshore wind, generating thousands of high-quality jobs across the UK, a strong UK supply chain and a fivefold increase in exports.”
However, Greenpeace said the offshore wind deal did not go far enough and warned that renewables needed to be scaled up even more.
John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “The government’s plans for a fleet of new nuclear reactors has collapsed. This leaves Britain with a big energy gap in the future. It means the government’s latest offshore wind target of 30 gigawatts by 2030 is woefully inadequate.
“Renewable power now presents the best opportunity for cheaper, cleaner and faster decarbonisation. Wind and solar must be tripled between now and 2030, with offshore wind the future backbone of the UK’s energy system.”
The deal will involve the release of seabed land owned by the Crown Estate, which manages the Queen’s property and assets.
The government will also provide £4m for a programme to help countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan invest in offshore wind projects using British technology.
BEIS said the deal would involve increasing the amount of participation by UK companies in offshore wind projects to 60% to ensure that the benefits of the investment go to communities “from Fife to the Isle of Wight”.
Benj Sykes, UK country manager for Danish offshore wind power company Ørsted, said: “This relentlessly innovative sector is revitalising parts of the country which have never seen opportunities like this for years, especially coastal communities from Wick in the northern Scotland to the Isle of Wight, and from Barrow-in-Furness to the Humber. Companies are burgeoning in clusters, creating new centres of excellence in this clean growth boom.”