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Prime Minister heralds rapid progress of the UK's green economy

David Cameron welcomes investment of £350m on energy projects that will create 800 jobs

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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

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 per cent 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 per cent 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.

Mr 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 let 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 20 firms based in several different 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 RenewableUK conference on global offshore wind to confirm in more detail how the new partnership will operate.

Energy investments confirmed today 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, a leading provider of specialist high performance subsea cables and umbilical systems for the offshore oil, gas and renewables market 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 announced that construction will begin on the Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant within the next fortnight. 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.

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Published 26 April 2012