ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson says the UK should accelerate onshore and offshore wind projects to help the country recover from the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, a view echoed by Iberdrola global offshore wind managing director Jonathan Cole
Speaking during a webinar, The Path to Net Zero, organised by All-Energy, Mr Anderson, who led ScottishPower Renewables and Iberdrola’s international offshore business prior to taking up his current role, said there is a groundswell of support in the UK and in the EU for using green power projects to drive recovery.
He highlighted the fact that as other industries struggle to come to terms with the effects of the pandemic, onshore and offshore wind projects had continued to progress.
Despite the challenging financial environment, Mr Anderson said ScottishPower is “more committed than ever” to investment in green energy and is still planning to deliver around £1.00Bn (US$1.25Bn) of investment in 2020 in its networks and in and offshore wind.
“Onshore and offshore wind are the least expensive form of new generation available to us,” he said. “There are a huge number of projects coming through, and there is definitely an opportunity to accelerate investment and bring more projects forward.
“History shows us time and time again that when you need to bring about an economic recovery, infrastructure is incredibly important. Onshore and offshore wind are huge infrastructure projects. They can create huge value throughout the supply chain, and huge value across the economy.
“What’s brilliant about this industry is that it can do all that while building out green energy and helping to meet 2050 targets for net zero.”
Addressing another webinar organised by All-Energy, Offshore wind – Keeping our eye on the long-term prize, Iberdrola global offshore wind managing director Jonathan Cole said he was also optimistic about offshore wind because the climate change agenda is now “unstoppable.”
Mr Cole said, “Long after this public health crisis abates, we will be living with a pretty severe economic crisis. Stimulating investment in large-scale infrastructure programmes is one way to get out of that situation.
“Offshore wind can do that because it has cascading benefits all the way through the economy. Rather than take away the case for offshore wind, Covid-19 has strengthened the case for it,” he said.
Mr Cole told the webinar that offshore wind can help with the recovery from Covid-19 and with the expected effects of climate change but said a note of caution was needed.
“We have experienced some fragility in the supply chain because of Covid-19. We’re going to be living in quite a volatile world for a while, with currency devaluations, questions about access to finance and some parts of the value chain finding life more difficult. We might see power prices flattening off and we might see restrictions on the way we work.
“There needs to be a recognition in any stimulus package that we need to protect the supply chain,” Mr Cole said, “and that the industry might not be able to progress quite as quickly along the cost reduction path that it has been following.
“We might not be quite as capable as we would have been getting to merchant pricing in offshore wind either. I think there has to be a recognition of these two factors if we are to keep everything on track.”
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