All Wind and No Work
One thing we have plenty of in the UK is wind, and I don’t just mean hot air. We have so much of it that it gives us almost 19% of our power supply and, as it happens, is the cheapest form of power generation, as well as being ecologically safe. There are already nearly 9000 turbines at work across the country.
The Renewables Obligation means British electricity suppliers are legally required to provide a percentage of their supply from clean, renewable sources.
That should be good news, shouldn’t it?
But when the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm was opened in Suffolk in 2013 – a multi-million pound project – it emerged that two thirds of it was made abroad. By 2017 we were using more than half the offshore wind power capacity in Europe, but how much of it meant British jobs?
Rampion’s scheme in Worthing covers 72 square kilometres (27.8 sq miles in old money) and cost £1.3 billion. How much of that was owned by British companies, built with British technology and provided British jobs? The main players had headquarters in Germany, Canada and Australia. The components were Danish. The UK may get around 60 full time posts. From a £1.3 billion project. They did their best to encourage local supply chains but in essence it is fair to say the UK is just not geared up for this kind of work. Why not?
We Must Not Get Left Behind
For ideological reasons, the Tory Party does not like clean, renewable energy sources. The love fracking for gas and are happy to let a Chinese company come in and make nuclear power station , but for wind, wave and solar power they always seem to cut incentives and cancel projects. The focus is always on short term savings and only on current prices, never on long term investment and rewards.
The obvious fact, which most other European nations realise, is that future employment will be in emerging technologies, many of which may require support in their early stages.
These technologies might include information technology, nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence and green power/energy technologies. Robotics is an example of a technology that provides jobs in one area by reducing them in another. Biotechnology often uses private investment and repays it with income from patents that make medicines more expensive. Green energy technologies are uniquely rewarding in providing employment and ecological benefits, with an almost unlimited future market for those who have the patents the trained staff. We don’t. Because we have a Tory government that refuses to make the decisions we need to build our future. So, if you want a future, with a cleaner planet and higher employment, get them out. Instead, take a look at Labour’s Industrial Strategy. Here it is:
You decide what makes most sense.