I am very proud that the wind turbine in Heath and Reach was the tallest one in England when it was built, and it will now be joined shortly by another one as well as a new solar array around them in order to power electric buses and cars.
It is also important to note that the United Kingdom was the first major economy to legislate for net zero carbon emissions and I am encouraged that, since 2000, the UK has decarbonised faster than any other G7 country.
I understand onshore wind is a key part of the Government’s strategy for low-cost decarbonisation of the energy sector. Achieving net zero by 2050 will require increased deployment across a range of technologies, including onshore wind.
It is for this reason that I welcome that, as part of the new Energy Security Strategy, the Government will be consulting on developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for guaranteed lower energy bills. In addition, I am encouraged that onshore wind prices are down 50 per cent since 2013.
The Energy White Paper stated that there will need to be sustained growth in the capacity of onshore wind over the next decade alongside solar and offshore wind. Therefore, I was glad that in March 2020 the Government announced that onshore wind and other established renewable technologies such as solar PV will be able to compete in the latest Contracts for Difference (CfD) allocation round. The round is now open and will aim to deliver up to double the renewable capacity of the last successful round in 2019 with £285 million a year.
Finally, the Hydrogen Strategy made clear that Scotland has a key role to play in the development of a UK hydrogen economy, with the potential to produce industrial-scale quantities of hydrogen from offshore and onshore wind resources, wave and tidal power, as well as with Carbon Capture Usage and Storage. The Energy Security Strategy also indicates that there will be 12,000 jobs in the UK hydrogen industry by 2030 – 3,000 more than previously expected.
I will continue to monitor any future developments closely.