The U.K. needs “much bolder and broader” renewable energy policies to encourage technologies ranging from solar thermal power to liquid biofuels, said the Renewable Energy Association, an industry lobby group.
Wind, solar, other renewables and their supply chains were worth 12.5 billion pounds ($20 billion) to the economy in 2011, a figure projected to rise to 24 billion pounds in 2020, the REA said in an e-mailed report today. For Britain to meet its binding European Union target of deriving 15 percent of energy from renewables by 2020, sales from the industry would need to be closer to 50 billion pounds, it said.
The REA said the renewable industry employs about 110,000 people in the U.K., a number that needs to reach more than 400,000 in 2020. U.K. Energy Minister Greg Barker said in an interview he’s “determined” to meet the jobs and turnover targets outlined by the report.
“There’s a huge opportunity here for the British supply chain to support the deployment of our new green clean energy infrastructure, and also grab a larger share of the global market,” Barker said by phone.
The U.K. this week is holding a Clean Energy Ministerial meeting hosted by Energy Secretary Ed Davey and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Energy ministers from 23 economies accounting for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and 90 percent of global clean energy investment are attending.
Barker said a series of bilateral agreements will be signed between the U.K. and other governments to spur technologies including wind power, carbon capture and storage and energy efficiency. The U.S. and U.K. today announced an agreement to develop floating offshore wind turbines.
Britain is offering 25 million pounds to contractors who can demonstrate floating offshore wind technology and will pick winners of the funds next year. The program seeks turbines that can generate as much as 7 megawatts of power by 2016. The U.S. offered $180 million for four demonstration projects, one of which may include a floating wind power system.
While Britain has “broadly positive” policies to spur offshore wind and wave and tidal energy, other technologies either suffer from “policy failures, or lack of political support,” including biomass combined heat and power plants, onshore wind, deep geothermal and anaerobic digestion plants on farms, according to the REA.
“Despite the critical role of renewable energy in our future prosperity, this vital sector remains marginalized in the broader U.K. policy framework,” REA Chief Executive Officer Gaynor Hartnell said in the report. “A renewable energy revolution means we can be confident that 100 years from now there will not just be a proud history to be told, but a hopeful future.”
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