Offshore wind farms are the future of UK renewable power, and will be a major factor in helping the UK hit its ambitious renewable energy targets. That’s the view of a top-level panel of experts from the government and energy sector.
The panel was formed to provided advice and guidance to the government, and included Shadow Energy Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies and chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith.
The panel warned that although offshore wind will have to be the main driver of renewable energy expansion in the UK, we’ll have to plan very carefully to make this happen, or could face an energy crisis because of skills shortages and lack of investment.
In the UK, renewables only count for 3% of the energy we currently use. With a target of 15% by 2020 it’s clear we’ll have to rapidly step up our green energy efforts.
To make this a reality, the panel suggested more sector engagement with secondary schools to boost pupils’ interest in science and technology subjects. It said the energy sector also needed to promote itself as a secure, long-term and well-paid career option.
“Anywhere between 80-100,000 jobs will be created by offshore wind alone,” said panel member David Spencer-Percival, Managing Director of Spencer Ogden.
Solar power, onshore wind, shale gas and, controversially, nuclear power, were also considered by the panel. As well as the skills gap, it was also mentioned that the only way to really get renewable energy moving in the UK was to make it profitable for companies to invest in.
As the panel showed, large-scale renewable energy provision is still in development in the UK. However, you don’t need to install gargantuan wind turbines or huge solar panel arrays to take advantage of renewable energy today.
Practical green energy options for your home are already available, and come in a wide range of sizes and prices. While wind power is unlikely to be feasible if you live in a big city, homes by the coast or in exposed locations can be great candidates for the installation of home wind power. If any excess electricity is generated it can even be sold back to the National Grid using the Feed in Tariff scheme.
Solar panels are also a viable renewable energy option. Modern photovoltaic panels work even on cloudy days, and as well as home applications, solar panel kits can be easily installed on boats, caravans and motorhomes.
While it’s clear that the government and big business will be key in driving the UK’s low carbon economy, it goes to show that renewable energy can start at home.