The UK has outlined ‘ambitious’ new targets and investment in offshore wind power to help meet its aim of net zero emissions in 2050.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced £160m of investment for ports and factories in areas such as Teesside and Humber in England, as well as sites in Scotland and Wales. He claimed the UK would become the “world leader in clean wind energy” repeating a manifesto pledge to target wind power capacity of 40 gigawatts by 2030 – which would account for around half of Britain’s current electricity usage.
While the UK invested $5.3bn (£4bn) last year, this figure was dwarfed by market leaders China, who spent $83.4bn while the US invested $55.5bn. Of the top 30 countries investing in renewable energy capacity in 2019 the UK ranked just 10th, beaten by the likes of Taiwan, the Netherlands and Brazil.
Renewable energy sources accounted for 37% of all UK electricity in 2019, of which wind accounted for 20%. This saw wind power overtake nuclear energy for the first time ever to become the second largest source of UK electricity behind gas.
But while the government’s tone of support for wind energy and renewables was welcomed, the lack of detail was criticised by opposition MPs and the British Chamber of Commerce, with many calling for the long-awaited energy white paper – first scheduled for summer 2019 – to finally be published.
Mr Johnson’s pledge that the UK would “build back greener” as it recovers from the coronavirus crisis, looks to reverse a recent trend that saw UK investments into renewables in 2019 fall by 40% from the previous year.