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oil and gasOctober 7, 2020

Offshore turbines to power post-virus UK recovery plan

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday vowed to turn Britain into the Saudi Arabia of wind power with a plan to connect every household to energy derived from floating turbines.
In a speech closing his Conservative party’s annual conference, the beleaguered Johnson sought to regain the initiative with an eye-catching plan to quadruple power generated by offshore wind from 10 to 40 gigawatts this decade.
But environmentalists said the plan fell woefully short of a promised “green recovery” to build a sustainable economy after the COVID-19 crisis, and critics accused Johnson of seeking to divert attention from a long series of pandemic failures.
The prime minister said new investment of £160 million ($208 million) for ports and factories to make next-generation turbines would support 60,000 jobs.
“Offshore wind will be powering every home in the country,” Johnson told the online conference, which this year has been accompanied by Conservative mutterings over his leadership amid a second wave of the pandemic.
“As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind — a place of almost limitless resource, but in the case of wind without the carbon emissions, without the damage to the environment,” he said.
Wind turbines on land are cheaper and more efficient, as they sit closer to the power grid.
But they are unpopular with many, especially Conservative backbenchers in rural constituencies, and their development has been stymied by planning regulations.
Johnson gave a nod to such opposition in noting: “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.
“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,” he said, referring to three naval heroes from centuries past.
In fact, when he was mayor of London in 2013, Johnson himself said shale gas was a better answer to energy shortages than wind power, which he said: “failed to pull the skin off a rice pudding.”
As mayor, Johnson was criticised for quixotic plans such as “Boris Island”, a new airport in the Thames estuary that came to nought, and a “garden bridge” over the river that incurred more than £50 million in planning costs before the project was abandoned.