CCC highlights key roles for wind in COVID-19 economic recovery

In: Windfarms

Ministers must seize the opportunity to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a defining moment in the fight against climate change, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) claimed in its
annual report to parliament.

For the first time, the committee set out its recommendations in a government department by government department context. These, it claims, are the urgent steps that must be taken in the months ahead to initiate a green, resilient COVID-19 recovery. They can be delivered through strong coordination across Whitehall.

CCC Chairman Lord Deben said: “The UK is facing its biggest economic shock for a generation. Meanwhile, the global crisis of climate change is accelerating. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address these urgent challenges together; it’s there for the taking. The steps that the UK takes to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic can accelerate the transition to a successful and low-carbon economy and improve our climate resilience. Choices that lock in emissions or climate risks are unacceptable."

Commenting on the latest progress report by the Committee on Climate Change, RenewableUK’s Head of Policy and Regulation Rebecca Williams said: “To meet net zero and recover from Covid, we need to put a rocket under our economy and that rocket has to run on clean energy. The CCC is clear about the huge opportunities right across the renewable energy sector and if we can invest early in emerging technologies like floating offshore wind and renewable hydrogen, the UK can build world-leading industries. A green economic recovery after the pandemic can create tens of thousands of jobs and attract billions in investment.

“It’s good to see the CCC highlighting the Government’s upcoming White Paper on energy as an ideal opportunity to accelerate progress on electrifying and decarbonising the heat and transport sectors, as well as scaling up battery storage to provide even greater flexibility”.

The CCC key findings included strengthening energy networks with offshore wind expected to play a major role. The committee stated in its report that offshore wind costs have fallen from £140-150/MWh for new projects in 2014 to around £40/MWh - below the cost of new gas-fired generation - for projects coming online in the mid-2020s. It outlined offshore wind power is the fastest growing source of electricity in the UK, with further potential for more than 75 GW of offshore wind farms to be operational by 2050. The CCC recommended that BEIS should develop a strategy to coordinate interconnectors and offshore networks for wind farms and their connections to the onshore network.

Also responding to the report, Vattenfall’s UK Country Manager Danielle Lane said: “The UK is going to need a wide mix of low-carbon and renewable heat and power if it is to reach net zero, and the Committee on Climate Change is absolutely right to call for at least 40GW of offshore wind generation by 2030. This is a critical moment for offshore wind in this country, and the industry is watching for a strong signal of intent that the Government is serious about maintaining the UK’s position as a global leader. It can send that signal right now by avoiding further planning delays and approving offshore projects which are ready to go - such as Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard and Boreas projects which could power over 3.5 million homes with green electricity - as well as boosting support to develop UK supply chains.

“The CCC also highlights the possibilities for reducing emissions in all areas of our lives beyond power generation, including heating and transport. But if we are to make the rapid progress needed in these areas, then policy choices should prioritise the lowest carbon options now – such as green hydrogen for transport and heavy industry – rather than CCS.

“Likewise, when it comes to heating buildings, decision-makers must stop trying to incentivise one technology over another. Heat is an essential service, and heat networks, heat pumps, and other technologies all have a role to play. So we need to see clear policies which support each one in the areas of the country where they will be most effective, without piling costs on to people who can least afford to pay.”

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