Britain’s biggest green energy companies want to help power a cleaner economic recovery after the Coronavirus pandemic. Companies across the North-East of England and Scotland are ready to deliver multi-billion-pound wind farm investments in order to achieve this. Scottish Power are planning to reopen Scotland’s oldest commercial wind farm as part of a £150m scheme to establish a clean energy cluster in central Scotland able to supply 100,000 homes with green electricity.
It is anticipated that the wind farm cluster will generate 600 jobs at its peak and 280 long-term jobs which is a welcome, albeit not immediate respite to the worst economic downturn in 300 years caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. These actions will help the UK to emerge from this crisis while taking steps to meet its climate goals.
CEO of Scottish Power, Keith Anderson, told the Guardian that the upgrade of Hagshaw Hill, Scotland’s first commercial wind farm will come alongside two separate agreements to buy two nearby development projects to create a clean energy cluster in South Lanarkshire totalling 220MW.
The company plans to develop 1,000MW of onshore wind power and battery storage after the government’s turnaround on support for onshore wind. The government Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced in early March this year that it will now allow onshore projects to compete in the Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction rounds.
The Hagshaw Hill project is only part of what Scottish Power are proposing but could also play a role in reviving the UK economy.
Keith Anderson said:
“We’re kickstarting as many of our projects as we can so they are ready to help boost the economy when the pandemic ends. Not only do these projects help funnel money back through the supply chain and into jobs but they also make sure that the economic recovery is based on sustainable investments.”
Ignacio Galán, the chairman and chief executive of Iberdrola, which owns Scottish Power, said it was vital that the financial recovery is aligned with climate goals.
“As we begin to emerge from the coronavirus crisis, investment in green infrastructure can quickly be delivered, creating jobs and offering immediate economic and environmental benefits. This will help to support the UK’s overall recovery at this critical time.”
Plans have been revealed separately by SSE and Equinor to use the Port of Tyne to host the operations hub for the world’s biggest offshore wind development, creating 200 permanent jobs and supporting a local supply chain industry based on clean energy. The port was picked through a competitive tendering process, following its £10m overhaul to prepare for a surge in demand from windfarm developers.
Equinor will construct the facility. The joint venture partner will base its Operations & Maintenance teams at the centre of the facility and operate the windfarm for its expected lifetime of more than 25 years. Construction of the wind farm, led by SSE Renewables, began in January 2020. Recruitment activity will begin in early 2022, with the first phase of the wind farm due to start producing renewable electricity the following year.
Stephen Bull said:
“The north-east has a strong industrial heritage and a supply area that stretches north and south of the River Tyne. The Port of Tyne is clearly well set up to attract other clean energy investment which we hope will complement our activities.”
The wind farm comprises three 1.2GW phases, with each phase based more than 130km from the North East coast of England. When fully operational it will be able to provide enough renewable electricity for over 4.5 million UK homes and it is expected to trigger capital investments of around £9bn over a six-year period.
Secretary of State for Business Alok Sharma said:
“This new facility is fantastic news for Tyneside and the North East of England. Renewable energy is one of the UK’s great success stories, providing over a third of our electricity and thousands of jobs. Projects like Dogger Bank will be a key part of ensuring a green and resilient economic recovery as well as reaching our target of net zero emissions by 2050.”
Equinor North Sea new energy solutions senior vice president Stephen Bull said:
“The UK government has legislated to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. Major scale renewable energy projects like Dogger Bank ensures Britain’s leadership as the #1 offshore wind nation. Moreover, the project brings new investment to the UK, at a challenging time for us all, and secures over 200 jobs in the region as well as new opportunities in a future-fit growth sector.”
The Port of Tyne’s chief executive, Matt Beeton, believes that the project is “extremely important for the wider region” as it will bring economic benefits for the local supply chain and create employment opportunities. Recruitment will begin in early 2022, with the first phase of the wind farm due to start producing renewable electricity the following year.
Matt Beeton said:
“This announcement is a huge step towards developing a cleaner future for the Port, the region and for industry in the north-east.”
Offshore wind has halved in price in the last two years setting a record of £57.50 per MWh. This is all good news for the green jobs sector which has seen employee numbers drop by a third in recent years. Offshore wind is still one of the UK’s most attractive markets.