Energy is one of the biggest opportunities to kick-start growth and boost employment but we in the UK need to be more forward-thinking, speedier and more innovative.
That was the key message from Baroness Verma to Business Green Leaders Forum on Managing Climate Risk in London recently.
She said: “To get us to our 2050 target we need innovation in a wide range of low carbon energy technologies.Innovation will not just bring down the costs of deploying these new low carbon technologies but it will also drive down the energy cost to the consumer.
“Such is the importance of innovation that we expect to invest in excess of £1 billion, in this spending review period, to directly support innovation in a broad portfolio of low carbon technologies. We’re investing in:
“Offshore wind, which has the potential to add £200 billion to the economy up to 2050.
“We are already seeing success with the Prime Minister opening the London Array on July 4. With its 175 wind turbines, this is the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
“We’re also investing in nuclear, which is clearly a key growth industry that provides highly skilled jobs. EDF anticipate their new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C will employ up to 25,000 people over the course of construction, and
“We have a £1 billion competition in Carbon Capture and Storage to help the UK bridge the electricity generation gap between fossil fuels and renewables.”
Collaboration between government and industry is central to delivering the task of decarbonising our economy at the lowest possible cost to the consumer, added Baroness Verma, who said: “Climate change is a real risk that we all need to address. The dangers of climate change are just too big to be left to government alone.”
The Climate Change Risk Assessment, published last year, shows that unless global action is taken to respond to climate change, the UK could incur significant costs and miss out on important business opportunities, both at home and abroad.
She added; “This call to action will see the UK shift its whole economy towards a low carbon, resource efficient path. By 2050, this path will lead our electricity generation to have near zero carbon emissions. By 2020, 15% of our energy generation will be from renewable sources.
“We had a £5 billion trade surplus in green goods and services in 2011-12 and the sector employs close to a million people – that’s on par with the UK’s financial services sector.
“So, working to de-carbonise our energy sector isn’t just the right thing to do for our planet – it is the right thing to do for our economy too and is helping us to compete in the global race for jobs and growth.
“Our Energy Bill is set to drive the necessary £110 billion of investment in our energy infrastructure, helping to secure low carbon growth at the lowest possible cost to the consumer.
“The Green Investment Bank has also been up and running for a year. The first of its kind, the bank has a total of £3.8 billion to specifically invest in green infrastructure. Examples of investments to date include:
- £100 million towards the conversion of the Drax power station in Selby.
- £125 million to finance the Green Deal.
- £45.6 million in the Walney offshore wind farm off Cumbria.
“Since 2010, DECC has recorded industry announcements, regarding investments in large scale renewable energy, totalling over £29 billion, with the potential to support around 30,000 jobs.
“Renewable generation is just one part of the market in green goods and services, a market worth £3.4 trillion globally.
“It’s still early days for the 20-year Green Deal programme but already we are seeing significant interest. More than 80% of people who have received Green Deal Advice report that they had, were getting or would get energy saving measures installed.
“And the Green Deal is supporting jobs, with up to 60,000 expected in the insulation sector alone by 2015 – that’s more than double the 26,000 employed in 2012.”