Government’s Green Energy Plan Offers Business Opportunity

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The South West’s growing renewable energy sector could expand even further and thousands more jobs could be created thanks to proposals outlined in the Government’s Renewable Energy Strategy consultation published today (26 June).

This is the view of the South West RDA which is committed to developing a low-carbon economy, and is demonstrating this commitment by making all of its investments net zero-carbon by 2013.

The Government’s proposals are designed to help the UK meet the EU target of generating 15 per cent of energy from renewables by 2020.

The proposals include the potential for new incentives for businesses and households to install microgeneration technologies; at least a 15-fold increase in offshore wind power generation; and a greater role for biomass energy from trees and crops.

The Government’s consultation document also pays tribute to the South West’s growing renewable energy sector, which is now worth £215 million a year to the regional economy and which has seen a massive 37% year-on-year growth in employment over the last 3 years. Although the renewables sector in the South West is still dominated by small businesses, 90 per cent of them expect their firms to grow over the next few years and over 60 per cent expect to expand existing or develop new markets in the UK.

Jonny Boston, Energy Manager at the South West RDA, said:

“Renewable energy is not only vital for the future of a low-carbon economy but also a great economic opportunity for the South West. Proposals to strengthen the support for renewable energy could not have come at a better time given issues over peak oil, rising energy bills, high fuel prices and our dependence on foreign oil. We are blessed with abundant natural resources in the South West that make us well placed to make use of our own indigenous sources of energy.

“The EU’s renewable energy targets are challenging but the region’s renewable energy sector is growing at an impressive rate, and we will be working hard to ensure that we capitalise on the Government’s ambitious plans and thus help deliver growth within environmental limits

“We welcome the Government’s consultation on the Renewable Energy Strategy and we will be responding in due course.”

The South West RDA is involved in a number of renewable energy projects. Since 2002 the RDA has invested more than £3.3 million of funding to Regen SW – the region’s sustainable energy agency. The RDA is also part of a cross-Government team involved in a study looking at potential options for capturing the tidal energy in the Severn Estuary and using it to help meet the UK’s renewable energy targets. This includes options for a Severn Barrage. And Defra recently awarded the RDA £3 million to invest in a range of bioheat projects across the region.

The RDA is currently recruiting a specialist off-shore engineering company to lead the design, procurement and installation of the Wave Hub project – an electrical socket on the seabed off Cornwall’s north coast which will enable companies developing wave energy technology to test their devices and assess how much power they generate before going into full commercial production. This project will provide a key stepping stone in the development of this emerging renewable energy sector.

Ends

Notes to editors

1. The South West RDA leads the development of a sustainable economy, investing to unlock the region’s business potential. It works in partnership with public, private and social purpose organisations to drive up the region’s productivity by giving people the skills they need, encouraging enterprise, improving infrastructure, regenerating places, and promoting the strengths of the region. For more information see www.southwestrda.org.uk

2. To view the Government’s Renewable Energy strategy, please click: http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file46799.pdf
3. To view the BERR webpage, which includes supporting documents, please visit: http://www.berr.govuk/energy/sources/renewables/strategy/page43356.html