The Labour Party in the UK, which is holding its annual conference this week, has announced plans to build as many as 37 new offshore windfarms, with a 51% publicly owned stake
Labour’s Shadow Business and Energy Secretary Rebecca Long Bailey MP, announced Labour’s plans at the conference.
The party highlighted that offshore wind prices fell by 30% last week and there are more offshore windfarms installed in the UK than any other country.
“But deployment is still too slow and all sites are owned by private and foreign public firms, taking jobs and revenue out of the UK. This is despite wind being a common resource,” the party claimed.
Under the ‘People’s Power Plan’, Labour said it will deploy clean power “at the scale and pace needed to deal with the climate emergency.”
In a statement it said this means delivering 52 GW of offshore wind by 2030, equivalent to 38 coal-fired power stations. The party said its new windfarms will be enough to provide electricity for 57M households.
A ‘People’s Power Fund’ will be created from 20% of all profits from the publicly-owned stake, investing between £600M (US$747M) – £1Bn (US$1.2Bn) each year into ‘bricks and mortar’ infrastructure in held-back coastal communities.
The remaining 80% of public profits will be reinvested into new renewables generation, improvements to the wider energy system and climate transition.
Labour’s Regional Energy Agencies will be responsible for owning, developing and operating a 51% public stake in new offshore windfarms – similar to the role of public energy companies in Belgium, Germany and Denmark.
Labour said its plans will lead to £83Bn (US$103Bn) of government and private sector funding being invested along the UK coastline, in partnership with private and foreign public companies.
It claimed that the People’s Power Plan will create at least 67,000 new, unionised, high-skilled jobs in the offshore wind sector, with particular concentrations in Scotland, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Anglia and northeast England.
The Shadow Business and Energy Secretary said, “Britain has long benefited from its windy shores, with the wind playing an essential role in our history as a seafaring nation. Our wind will soon become our largest energy source.
“While our offshore wind industry is still young, the UK has the opportunity to avoid replicating Britain’s experience with North Sea Oil and instead to learn from countries such as Norway and Sweden by owning what is already ours.
“By taking a stake in offshore wind, we can collectively benefit from the profits, investing them back into our held back coastal communities. That wind will turn into harbour fronts and libraries. Instead of jackets for windfarms located in Scotland being made in Indonesia, we’ll bring those jobs back to Fife.”
The party said Norway’s Oil Fund demonstrated the importance of taking a public stake in offshore energy resources, rather than privatising the assets and losing control over future revenue stream.
It said municipal energy companies in German cities like Munich and Darmstadt have become large-scale offshore wind developers, returning revenues to local services in their home cities.
The People’s Power plan would be financed through joint venture partnerships between Regional Energy Agencies and existing offshore wind developers.
Responding to the plan, RenewableUK chief executive Hugh McNeal said, "It’s right that we increase the level of ambition for offshore wind to meet our net zero emissions target in a way that benefits consumers and boosts the economy.
"Investment by the offshore wind sector is creating thousands of jobs and bringing new investment to towns and cities across the UK, particularly our coastal communities.
"We’ve now reached a point where industry can develop new offshore wind without the need for subsidy or taxpayer investment, so we need more detail from Labour on these headline proposals.”