Majority public ownership in a fleet of 37 new offshore wind farms, each 1.1GW in size, with the profit recycled into new renewables and the built infrastructure: that was the promise from shadow secrtary fo state Rebecca Long-Bailey announced at the Labour conference this week. -
Responsibility for developing, owning and operating the new wind farms would lie with Labour’s promised regional energy agencies (REAs). These bodies are based on the existing distribution network operators, which Labour plans to bring into public ownership, with vastly increased powers and responsibilities. The REAs would form joint venture partnerships with existing offshore wind developers to build the wind farms.
The fleet of wind farms would bring the offshore wind total to 52GW. It will require an investment of £83 billion between 2020 and 2030, with £6.2 billion from NTF-provided equity capital, a further £6.2 billion in equity capital invested by the REAs, £12.5 billion invested by private sector partners in equity capital, and £58 billion in limited-recourse project finance from the private sector.
Once in operation, 80% of public profits will be reinvested into new renewables generation, improvements to the wider energy system and climate transition. The remaining 20% of profits from the stake, estimated at £600–1,020 million annually, will be invested in ‘bricks and mortar’ infrastructure in coastal communities such as harbour fronts, leisure centres, libraries and parks.
Noting that foreign state-owned companies like Vattenfall and Orsted own 51% of current offshore wind proejects, Long-Bailey said, “Our wind will soon become our largest energy source.
“While UK’s offshore wind industry is still young, the UK has the opportunity to avoid replicating Britain’s experience with North Sea Oil and instead to learn from countries such as Norway and Sweden by owning what is already ours.
“By taking a stake in offshore wind, we can collectively benefit from the profits, investing them back into our held back coastal communities. That wind will turn into harbour fronts and libraries. Instead of jackets for wind farms located in Scotland being made in Indonesia, we’ll bring those jobs back to Fife.” She promised 67,000 new offshore wind sector jobs in the UK.