Boris Johnson’s plan to use offshore wind farms to power every home in the UK within a decade could cost £50 billion and require a new turbine to be installed everyday throughout the 2020s, experts have warned.
The Government already had a target to increase the amount of electricity generated by offshore wind from the current level of 10 gigawatts to 30GW by 2030.
But Mr Johnson used his Conservative Party conference speech today to confirm that the target is now being increased to 40GW.
Mr Johnson defended his plan against critics who he said used to believe that wind power ‘wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding’ – a knowing reference to comments made by the PM himself in the past.
The decision to make the wind power announcement one of the centrepieces of the PM’s conference address sparked anger among some Conservative MPs who said he should be focused on the coronavirus pandemic.
One Tory backbencher told Politico: ‘This is the biggest disaster since 1945. Do we really think £160 million for floating windmills is going to make everyone forget?’
Another Tory MP questioned whether the PM would actually deliver on the pledge, telling MailOnline: ‘The devil will be in the detail – it is always easy to announce these things.
‘Everything is “over the next decade” but they won’t be there. There is no way he [Mr Johnson] will be there in 10 years’ time.’
The MP said the wind farms pledge would likely ‘become someone else’s problem down the line’.
Labour also suggested the PM should be focusing on the pandemic, with deputy leader Angela Rayner saying Mr Johnson should ‘set out how he will get a grip and tackle the crisis at hand’.
Mr Johnson this morning set out his green energy plan which will see thousands of coastal turbines built in the coming years.
The premier pledged to move at ‘gale force speed’ to make Britain the world leader in offshore wind technology and create up to 60,000 jobs.
Today’s announcement will see the Government invest £160million in upgrading ports and infrastructure in areas including Teesside and the Humber to help manufacture and install the next generation of offshore turbines.
Mr Johnson also pledged to install 1GW of floating turbines around the coast – 15 times the world’s total current capacity.
A report published by Aurora Energy Research suggested increasing the offshore target to 40GW could ultimately cost £50 billion.
The firm said: ‘Analysis by Aurora Energy Research shows that reaching the 40GW by 2030 target will require 30GW of capacity to be commissioned during the 2020s- three times as much as that installed during the 2010s.
‘This would require one turbine to be installed every weekday during the whole of the 2020s, and almost £50bn in capital investment.’
Labour’s shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband said the UK’s commitment to green energy ‘pales in comparison’ to its European neighbours.
He said: ‘Nothing in the Prime Minister’s re-announcement today on wind energy targets will tackle the immediate jobs crisis our country faces. We need ambition on renewable energy, but Boris Johnson rarely delivers on his rhetoric.’
Many in Westminster believe Mr Johnson has become a firmer advocate for green policies since becoming PM, with some suggesting his partner Carrie Symonds, an environmental campaigner, has influenced his views.
Mr Johnson said today that his wind power pledge would mean ‘your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands’.
He promised to make the UK to wind power what ‘Saudi Arabia is to oil’.
‘I remember how some people used to sneer at wind power, 20 years ago, and say that it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding,’ he said.
‘They forgot the history of this country. It was offshore wind that puffed the sails of Drake and Raleigh and Nelson, and propelled this country to commercial greatness.’
Downing Street said ‘it is not about government investment alone’ when the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman was asked about the £50bn cost estimate.
The spokesman said that by increasing the target for offshore wind the Government is ‘providing certainty’ to the private sector so firms can ‘invest with confidence’.
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