Friday, July 17, 2009

UK engineering jobs to rise with transition to low carbon economy

Engineering jobs in the new UK energy sectors are likely to be created as the government has announced new plans to keep Britain on a low carbon footing. The Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed this on Wednesday.

The government will invest up to £120 million in low carbon economy and the funds will be used to create new offshore windfarms, while additional £60 million will be invested in the wave and tidal energy sector. The goal is to ensure that the UK is a global leader in this particular sector.

"Renewables, nuclear and clean fossil fuels are the trinity of low carbon and the future of energy in Britain,“ said Ed Milliband, energy and climate change secretary, calling the new plan a ''route-map to 2020." He added, "Under our plans, we will get 40 per cent of our electricity from low carbon energy by 2020 and more in the years afterwards."

Greenpeace estimates that the government's goal – to reduce carbon emissions by 34 percent by 2020 – will cost approximately £100 billion.

Charles Anglin, spokesman for the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), said that refocusing on offshore wind farms could make the widespread installation of turbines more likely, as the country is currently an unfriendly market for wind turbine manufacturers because installation of wind farms onshore is constantly delayed by planning processes and opposition from those who find the turbines visually offensive.

Anglin said: "Here in Europe we’re expecting to see 40-50GW worth of offshore sites identified and developed in the next decade. Half of that will be in the UK. Europe will be 90 per cent of the world market and we will have half the European market."

Last autumn, the BWEA commissioned a report that indicated that if half the turbines for the UK’s offshore market were produced in the UK, this would create 60,000 jobs within a decade. The government’s new low carbon strategy, says Anglin, is a step toward making this possible.

"There is real progress being made but what the government has to do is try and make it clear to people why it’s attractive for them to open the factories here. There are a number of reasons, but one is that you want to be close to where your market is and 45 per cent of the world market will be here in the UK."

He added, "It’s much less attractive to import products from the euro zone and more attractive to build the products here in the UK. I think there is a lot of call for optimism."

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