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Johnson’s wind power dream to cost £50bn, analysts say

The prime minister’s pledge to power every home in the country with offshore wind turbines by 2030 will cost £50bn and require massive reform of the power market, experts have warned.

Speaking at the Tory party conference on Tuesday, Boris Johnson set in stone a manifesto target to quadruple offshore wind capacity to 40GW within the decade.

Experts at Aurora Energy Research calculate that it will cost the private sector about £50bn to deliver the increased capacity, about twice as much as was invested during the 2010s. Businesses and households will ultimately have to foot the bill.

Britain will need to add two offshore turbines every three days to hit the deadline, Aurora said – double the current rate of one every three days.

The ambitious target has been set as politicians scramble to make the UK a carbon-neutral country by 2050, and build on previous success in offshore wind.
Evolution of the largest commercially available wind turbines

It was announced alongside a commitment to spend £160m on ports and factories in areas such as Teesside and the Humber to help develop wind turbines and support the industry.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge, deputy chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, an independent government advisor, said the announcement is a “positive sign that we’re heading in the right direction.”

She added: “This announcement will boost the UK’s source of cheap, low-carbon electricity to power our homes, businesses, vehicles and appliances – whilst delivering green jobs up and down the country.”

Investment into offshore wind has been encouraged so far by a subsidy scheme in which developers have been guaranteed fixed prices of electricity, with the price falling dramatically in recent years.

Simon Virley, who helped develop the market for UK wind power at the energy department from 2009-2015 and is now head of energy at KPMG, said: “The ambition on offshore wind and the extra funding is welcome.

“But to achieve 40GW by 2030 will require significant reforms to the way the power market works and tackling some of the non-financial barriers to deployment that currently exist, like the time involved in securing consents.”

He and others hope there will be more details in a long-delayed energy white paper, due to be published by the business secretary Alok Sharma possibly as soon as this month.