I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person today. But I want to personally convey to you three things:
- that we will be the greenest government ever
- that I understand the opportunity in offshore wind is immense
- but that we need a partnership between industry and government to deliver it
Both the Prime Minister and I stated quite categorically that we will be the greenest government ever.
As a coalition we want to build a different kind of economy. We need a low-carbon economic recovery to tackle the challenges of climate change and energy security.
And of course in this challenge lies a tremendous opportunity. I know that you need clear and consistent policies so you can make long-term investments.
I am committed to ensuring you have the right incentives for low-carbon growth. The offshore wind industry can be a key player in creating the investment, exports and jobs we need to bring back economic prosperity.
I am personally absolutely committed to offshore wind. You don’t need me to tell you that we are in a unique position to becoming a world leader in this industry, or that as an island nation we should be harnessing our abundant offshore wind, wave and tidal resources.
I want to work with you accelerate deployment and technical advances so we can meet Renewable Energy targets - especially in the short term.
But I know that your investments are looking far beyond 2020. That is why we are asking the Committee on Climate Change to consider higher targets for renewable energy generation beyond 2020 so you can be sure of government’s long-term commitment to the renewables industry.
I think you have made a fantastic start, with 14 offshore wind farms operating in the UK today, and 1.5 GigaWatts of further construction underway.
But it is not enough. For you as an industry, and for us as a country. I was delighted to see that you have set out ambitions to generate up to 50 GigaWatts of energy from offshore wind by 2020 - enough to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of around 33 million homes.
And I was pleased to read the recent Offshore Valuation report say that we could even have the potential to become a net electricity exporter. This really can be an industry to rival the North Sea.
It is not going to be cheap. But as part of the £200 billion of investment needed in our energy infrastructure over the next decade, tens of billions of investment will be needed in the UK offshore wind industry.
That is both a challenge and a huge opportunity for UK plc. It will require significant effort from Government, the Crown Estate, the investor community and most importantly you - the wind industry. Because we need your co-operation, your partnership to meet this challenge.
As the UK remains the global leader in operating offshore wind, we are committed to retaining this position by working closely with industry to overcome current barriers and help further investment.
This is why the Government will be supporting the Offshore Wind Developers’ Forum, which my colleague, Charles Hendry will co-chair. By providing a platform for all developers investing in UK offshore wind projects, we can work together towards addressing the key barriers to these ambitions.
We are also currently considering in detail how creating a network of marine energy parks can work to push the wave, tidal and wind sectors forward. Each marine energy park will be unique and different; building on the strengths of the region in which it is based and bringing together such elements as grid availability, industrial and supply chain development, economic regeneration, skills and academic excellence.
We are also working to speed up access to the electricity networks and developing a good regulatory regime for offshore electricity transmission. In doing so we are listening carefully to the concerns industry have raised with us. We have the same ambition as you - that offshore wind turbines can come on stream and on grid as soon as possible.
We want this country to be the best place in which to invest . We’re already starting to see some of the industrial benefits of our commitment to wind energy, with some big recent announcements by some of the world’s leading companies that they are coming to the UK. We intend to build on this going forward to ensure that we fulfil our ambitions for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy.
We will continue to provide clear signals to the market through the Renewable Obligation and Feed In Tariffs for example. We are committed to maintaining banded Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) and any move to a FIT will be done with the aim of ensuring that the UK is best placed to meet 2020 targets, protecting both investors and consumers.
We’ve got the intellectual capital to build on. We have world beating universities. We are a world leader in research. The UK is now home to world class testing facilities, from the Orkneys and NAREC in Northumbria to the Wave Hub in the South West.
I look forward to working with you over the years to come to ensure we can all harness the benefits of renewables in the UK. Greater energy security. carbon emission savings. And new jobs and economic regeneration for the country.
I hope you have a successful conference and wish you the very best of luck. We will be by your side on this journey.