Biomass and wind projects emerged as the renewables technologies that received the lion’s share of investment in 2011.
DECC has published research showing that between 1 April – 16 November 2011 companies announced plans for almost £2.5 billion worth of investment in renewable energy projects in the UK. If all of these planned projects go ahead, they would create 12,000 jobs across the country over the next few years.
A regional map (see below) provides a breakdown of where the projects and jobs are taking place, or slated to take place. A handful of projects make up around a quarter of these new schemes. These include:
- Two 299MW biomass plants by Drax Power in Yorkshire, which will create up to 1500 jobs.
- 49MW biomass plants by Air Products in the north east, up to 750 jobs.
- A £600m investment into 299MW biomass plant by Anglesey Aluminium Metals Renewables in Wales, creating up to 700 jobs.
- Vestas is planning a wind turbine factory in Sheerness in the south east, designed to create up to 2000 jobs.
- Energi Coast – an alliance of 19 north east businesses – is aiming to create 2000 new jobs.
Against this background of green investment and green jobs, the Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and Chancellor George Osborne have seemingly been at odds over the contribution of the renewables sector to Britain’s economy for much of 2011.
Osborne has blamed green taxes for high energy bills. At the Conservative conference in the autumn, he said: “We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business.”
Mr Huhne struck a different note yesterday. He said: “Renewable energy is not just helping us increase our energy security and reduce emissions. It is supporting jobs and growth across the country.” However at the same time he also sounded defensive, almost apologetic, perhaps not wishing to inflame Mr Osborne, when he added: “Our renewable target is less demanding than other EU member states”. Less demanding in the sense that Britain has set itself a target of sourcing 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020. The EU-wide target is 20 per cent.
Britain will need to play catch up fast to meet the 15 per cent target. Although the government yesterday pointed towards an increase on the previous year in energy sourced from renewables, it still only accounted for 3.3 per cent in 2010. Various industry experts believe that a minimum of 4 per cent will need to be achieved for the current financial year (2011/2012). Given the economic problems that have beset the country and the fudging of legislation around the RHI and Feed-in Tariffs that target may be optimistic – and it will need to climb to around 7.5 per cent by 2015/2016.
DECC’s statement of 29 December 2011 can be found in full by clicking here.