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PM heralds rapid progress of the UK's green economy

The Prime Minister has attended a meeting of international Energy Ministers as part of the Clean Energy Ministerial, to make the case for clean energy in the UK and around the world.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Speaking to Energy Ministers from 23 leading economies, the Prime Minister said: “There are huge challenges facing governments across the world today, and one of the most important of all is how we meet our growing energy demands in a way that protects our planet for our children and grandchildren.

“With global demand forecast to increase by more than 40% in the next two decades, we urgently need a more diverse, cleaner mix of energy sources that will give us energy security without causing irreparable damage to the planet.

“Renewables are now the fastest growing energy source on the planet. And I am proud that Britain has played a leading role at the forefront of this green energy revolution.

“Britain has gone from virtually no capacity for renewables, to seeing them provide almost 10% of our total electricity needs last year. And we’ve added more capacity for renewables in the last two years than at any time in the last decade.

“Our commitment and investment in renewable energy has helped to make renewable energy possible. Now we have a different challenge. We need to make it financially sustainable.”

Emphasising that the renewable energy sector can move from its strong position today to become a truly global industry, the Prime Minister spoke about collaboration between government and business to drive down costs, the need to develop a global carbon price, and the importance of enhanced international trading.

David Cameron highlighted that between April 2011 and February 2012, investment announcements to the value of £4.7 billion and supporting 15,000 jobs have been made in UK renewable energy and its supply chain. The Prime Minister also welcomed further industry announcements, including a major new contract by E.ON for its Humber Gateway offshore wind farm, investment by JDR Cables in a significant expansion of its facility in Hartlepool, and the progression of three biomass and wind projects in the UK, representing £350m of investment and as many as 800 jobs at the peak of construction.

Finally, the Prime Minister announced a new industry partnership, bringing together key players with an interest in making the most of the North Sea’s renewable energy resource.
More than twenty firms based in several countries have already signed-up to a shared vision to create a major new renewable energy power centre in the North Sea and to maximise the significant opportunities that come with it. Early signatories include major offshore wind developers (such as Scottish Power, Dong, Mainstream, Statoil and Statkraft); manufacturers (such as Siemens, Gamesa, Alstom, Areva), as well as a wide range of supply chain companies (such as TAG Energy Solutions, JDR Cables and David Brown Gear Systems).

Under the provisional name of Norstec, which takes inspiration from the Desertec solar initiative, this brings together key players who recognise the enormous opportunity offered by the North Sea. This network will come together around the time of the June Renewable UK conference on global offshore wind to confirm in more detail how the new partnership will operate.

Confirmed energy investments include:
• E.ON is announcing a major new cable installation contract for its £736m Humber Gateway offshore wind farm awarded to British company Balfour Beatty. Over 30km of wholly UK-manufactured cable will be installed to connect the wind farm
• JDR Cables is announcing that it has completed investment of £30million in its Hartlepool plant, bringing the company into a new phase of growth
• Helius Energy is announcing that it is working with a club of banks to project finance its 100MW Avonmouth dedicated biomass project at the Port of Bristol. The project will cost around £300m to construct and will create approximately 450 full time jobs during the construction phase and 40 new full-time long-term operations jobs. Further jobs will be created in relation to the maintenance and supply of the plant
• ECO2 has announced that construction will begin on the Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant within the next two weeks. Up to 250 people will be working on the site during construction of the 38MW straw fuelled biomass combined heat and power plant which is expected to employ up to 80 people when operational in 2014
• Banks Renewables is expected to announce a £21.9m funding agreement with The Co-operative Bank to fund the construction of the 20.4MW Penny Hill wind farm near Rotherham. The scheme will create 30 jobs during construction and a number of contracts will be awarded to local firms to supply material and conduct sub-contract works. Towers for the turbines will be manufactured by British engineering firm, Mabey Bridge, at their purpose-built factory near Chepstow

However, Green Energy UK is fighting back against the PM’s comments that green energy will be ‘cheap within years’. They say that despite misconceptions, green energy needn’t cost more than a regular tariff. Furthermore, Green Energy UK argues that despite the continued research and development surrounding the industry, the cost of renewable and green energy is continually competitive with traditional ‘brown’ tariffs, with some suppliers able to deliver eco-friendly energy at the same price as customers’ regional electricity companies.

Doug Stewart, CEO of Green Energy UK commented: “Today’s speech from David
Cameron stating that green energy will be ‘cheap within years’ casts an unfair aspersion that green and renewable energy is expensive in the UK. There is a general misconception that green energy means expensive energy, however, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Becoming ‘green’ does not need to mean you have to construct a wind farm in your garden, instead it may just mean opting for a renewable tariff from a green energy supplier.

“With a number of smaller energy suppliers breaking into the market, the utilities industry is becoming more competitive. Smaller suppliers are able to offer value for money due to lower overheads and are still able to offer the advantages of UK-based customer support.

“At Green Energy UK we want truly clean power sourcing to become mainstream, enabling us to distance ourselves from overseas production and utilise home-grown energy.”

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