Greg Hands – 2021 Speech on Offshore Wind

The speech made by Greg Hands, the Clean Growth and Climate Change Minister, on 29 September 2021.

I am delighted to join you here today at Global Offshore Wind to deliver my first live speech since taking up my exciting new role as Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change Minister.

Having been recently Trade Minister, it’s appropriate that we’re meeting here on the Royal Victoria Dock – a symbol of our rich trading history, exporting goods across the world. The UK has long been a seafaring nation, creating prosperity through our ability to navigate the high seas.

Fast forward to the 21st century and we are, once again, using our maritime expertise, to create economic growth, while providing clean power for our homes, and boosting coastal communities.

We are now only 32 days away from the start of COP26, where we will look to accelerate global action, to tackle the climate crisis.

It’s no exaggeration to say offshore wind will be a linchpin in our efforts to reach net zero.

Last year, the Prime Minister set out his ambitious 10-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. It’s no coincidence that Offshore Wind took prime position in his vision.

Whilst I may be new to this position, as Minister for Energy and Climate Change, I am not new to offshore wind. I have long been an ardent enthusiast in government and beyond.

As Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2015, we moved the parameters of pending, and the CfD process, decisively, in favour of offshore wind.

And as Trade Minister since 2016, I have always pushed the sectors export capability, whether in Taiwan, Korea, or Vietnam, and attracting foreign direct investment.

And I am personally thrilled to see that our country has the world’s largest installed offshore wind capacity.

And not content with being world number 1, we are projecting a quadrupling of that capacity within just 10 years.

I want to highlight a few of these areas where we have been working together to push forward deployment.

This morning we published the Joint Government and Sector Task Force’s ‘Strategy and Implementation Plan’, outlining the first interim solutions for the mitigation of interference with military radar.

This will inform projects bidding into this year’s Contracts for Difference round, providing confidence on how deployment can co-exist, with military radar.

Our next generation radar innovation competition has been a huge success, and is ready to move to phase 2.

The standard of applications to this phase was so high, that we are increasing the funding available, awarding £3.8 million to 7 projects this month. When this phase completes in early 2023, BEIS will have invested £5.9 million in developing next-generation radar technologies.

Acceleration of offshore wind deployment needs to be environmentally sustainable, and my department is working with DEFRA, The Crown Estate and the Offshore Wind Industry Council, to gain a greater understanding of the impacts of deployment, and find strategic solutions to manage and mitigate them. And I know my colleague Rebecca Pow will be speaking later, about the work we have been doing together, to ensure that deployment is sustainable and protects the marine environment.

We are cooperating right across Whitehall to focus on delivery – I am looking forward to working through the new Ministerial Delivery Group, to determine how we can address the tensions between our decarbonisation, economic and environmental protection ambitions, and develop a truly strategic vision, of how to prioritise activities within the sea-space.

This sits alongside the work being done by government on reform of the National Planning Policy Statements, and Project Accelerate.

To enable this large increase in offshore wind, we need the right infrastructure ready, and in place. And we need to ensure that local economies and communities benefit from offshore wind, while mitigating any disruption.

The Offshore Transmission Network Review is looking at how we can reach our wind targets, while reducing the environmental and local costs associated with offshore wind infrastructure.

In the near term, we are working with a number of developers through our Early Opportunities workstream on potential Pathfinder projects, delivering early coordination. And we are keen to see high ambition and strong cooperation between developers to maximise benefits.

For the longer term, we are moving towards a more strategic approach and yesterday, we published a consultation on high-level approaches to an Enduring Regime, and will use the responses to develop detailed policy proposals. I’m looking forward to discussing this with many of you.

Ensuring that we make the most of the broader economic benefits from offshore wind deployment, as part of our Green Industrial Revolution, is a critical part of our strategy.

In March we announced £95 million of government investment for two major offshore wind ports, the Able Marine Energy Park on Humberside and the Teesworks Offshore Manufacturing Centre on Teesside.

We are also investing in manufacturing – building or extending facilities which will create thousands of jobs in the UK. I was delighted to visit Hartlepool, yesterday, no coincidence that my first ministerial visit was to see offshore wind, to announce JDR Cables investment in a new state-of-the-art high-voltage subsea cable facility to be built in Blyth, referred to by Dan. This is the 6th manufacturing facility that we have provided grant funding to, just this year. Alongside the 2 dedicated offshore wind ports we have supported, that represents £1.5 billion of investment securing and creating up to 3,600 jobs with:

Siemens Gamesa
GRI Renewable Industries
Seah Wind
Smulders Projects UK Ltd at Wallsend
GE Renewables

We are absolutely committed to backing the development of the sector across the whole of the UK, and the supply chain, for both fixed bottom, and floating, offshore wind. And they highlight our status as an attractive destination for inward investment, and a leading hub for the offshore wind supply chain.

Floating wind will become increasingly important to help us meet both Carbon Budget 6 and net zero.

I am excited to see how many new floating wind projects will be brought forward by Crown Estate Scotland’s ‘ScotWind’ leasing process and The Crown Estate’s planned leasing round, in the Celtic Sea.

Building a strong UK-based floating infrastructure and supply chain will allow us to deploy here and to capitalise on a growing export market. Our 1GW by 2030 target for floating wind is a steppingstone to a much greater scale deployment in the 2030s.

That’s why we have proposed a minimum of £24 million in the next Contract for Difference auction for floating wind.

We are also supporting innovation projects up to a total cost of £20 million over 4 years, delivering cost reduction and innovative floating wind demonstration projects. We will announce winners in the coming weeks.

I am also pleased to announce that BEIS has joined the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence, which I was also able to visit yesterday. BEIS is providing the Centre with £2 million over 4 years to further accelerate innovation in the UK’s floating wind sector.

I am so impressed with how far the offshore wind sector has come in just a short time.

As we drive forward to 2030, Carbon Budget 6 and net zero, there are even greater opportunities. We’re working to ensure the UK can continue to lead the way in delivering offshore wind. I am excited about this, and I know you will be too. Thank you.