Nick Webb looks at Britain's new approach to renewable energy and the progress Scotland is already making.
Photo by Nathan Anderson
As part of the Conservative government’s green economy plans to rebuild a more environmentally friendly post-Covid Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised that “in 10 years’ time, offshore wind will be powering every home in the country.” Speaking at the Virtual Tory Party Conference, the PM has announced that the UK will aim to have net-zero emissions by 2050.
The policy of “build back greener” includes £160 million investment to upgrade infrastructure, especially in parts of the North-East, Scotland and Wales, in order to increase offshore wind energy generation. The projects will see the creation of over 2000 construction jobs, and enable the sector to support up to 60,000 positions by 2030. This commitment puts the British economy on target to create 60% of the UK’s green energy using wind farms.
In his keynote speech at the end of the second day of the Tory Conference, the Prime Minister promised that in his “green industrial revolution”, the target for the amount of wind-generated electricity in the UK will rise from 30 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts. This pledge would make the UK the world leader in green energy. As part of the plan to reach net-zero by 2050, Johnson outlined a future of “green-collar jobs in wind, in solar, in nuclear, in hydrogen and in carbon capture and storage.”
The construction plans include not only large, static wind farms, but floating windmills– “enough to generate one gigawatt of energy by 2030, 15 times as much as the rest of the world put together.”
While there is a promise of large-scale government investment in the scheme, the Prime Minister has said that not everything can be funded with public money, and “there comes a moment when the state must stand back and let the private sector get on with it.”
A Scottish Story
In November 2021, the UN COP26 Climate Conference will be held in Glasgow. Scotland is held as an example of a country not only meeting their green energy targets, but exceeding them. Scotland is on target to reach 100% renewable energy before the end of 2020.
Scotland has been an example in wind-generated electricity, and closed its last coal-fired power plant all the way back in 2016. Now, there is only one gas-fired power station remaining in the country, where conversions to renewable sources are taking place.
Since 2019, renewable energy sources have been able to exceed 100% of Scotland’s energy needs for up to 30 days out of a month. The biggest stumbling block has been finding ways to store the excess energy. From 2018, it has been reported that renewable power sources have been driving 76.2% of power.
The devolved parliament in Scotland set out its own Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act in 2019 in which steps were set out to reduce Greenhouse emissions to net-zero by 2045. This target is not only well within Scotland’s current reach, but also comes five years earlier than most of the rest of the world.
These developments are encouraging signs that Britain’s leader may finally be taking the implications of climate change seriously. Let’s hope that the economic turmoil caused by coronavirus, and potentially also Brexit, doesn’t hinder these necessary commitments to sustainability from being fulfilled.
We are a socio-ethical impact initiative advocating for topics that matter, whilst supporting wider planetary change and acknowledgement. To support our work and journalism, consider becoming an advocate from just £1.