As the UK Chancellor George Osborne makes his Autumn Statement, a report by Cambridge Econometrics for WWF and Greenpeace indicates that investing in offshore wind rather than gas would boost GDP by £20 billion.
The Chancellor is widely expected to back a major expansion of gas-fired power stations in his Statement, going again the advice of the Climate Change Committee and growing public support for wind power.
The report compares two scenarios: one where there is steady growth in offshore wind capacity through the 2020s; and one where offshore wind growth stalls after 2020 with the UK relying on gas instead.
The failure to include a 2030 decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill could create all the factors associated with the second scenario, warn investors.
But if long-term support for the wind sector could be guaranteed now, there could be significant benefits for the UK economy, says the report.
As well as the 0.8% boost to the economy by 2030, the UK would also save £8 billion a year on gas imports and reduce emissions from the power sector by two-thirds.
Investment in the wind sector would also create tens of thousands of much-needed extra jobs, with an additional 70,000 full-time equivalent jobs by 2030.
“Much of the debate around the choice between gas-fired and offshore wind electricity generation in the years post-2020 assumes wind is more expensive,” says Paul Ekins, professor of resources and environmental policy at UCL. “This study presents powerful evidence to the contrary.”
In fact, according to the report, the savings offered by offshore wind compared with gas could work out at £91 for every household in the UK.
“The wind industry is already up and running, onshore and offshore. Renewables are already generating nearly 10% of our electricity – with almost half of that coming from wind,” says Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, the trade and professional body representing the wind and marine energy industries.
“Every independent opinion poll this year shows that about two-thirds of the public support renewables and want more wind energy as they’ve already seen the benefits it brings. Fossil fuels, including shale gas, don’t enjoy that level of public support.”
UK government set to approve 30 new gas power stations (4-Dec)
Wind power could meet 25% of global electricity demand by 2030 (15-Nov)
Onshore wind power more competitive as costs plummet 38% (2-Nov)
British public want more wind farms, according to poll (23-Oct)
Article source: http://www.energyefficiencynews.com/i/5604/