Three government ministers and one monarch-in-waiting gathered on the north Norfolk coast today to officially open Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm. Prince Haakon was joined by the UK and Norway energy ministers, Ed Davey and Ola Borten Moe, and by Norwegian trade and industry minister, Trond Giske.
Owned jointly by Norwegian energy companies, Statoil and Statkraft, the 317MW Sheringham Shoal project is the latest offshore wind farm to be completed in UK waters, bringing the country's total offshore capacity to more than 2.5GW.
The ability of offshore wind to provide jobs during a period of economic stagnation — and for decades to come — should not be underestimated, said Davey at the launch. More than 700 jobs were created during construction of the wind farm, alongside 60 long-term local jobs.
Sheringham Shoal is set to be dwarfed by Statoil's and Statkraft's next investment in UK offshore wind. The two companies have joined forces with RWE and SSE to develop multiple offshore wind projects within the Dogger Bank zone.
Together, the Dogger Bank projects are expected to form the world's largest offshore wind development. However, the companies involved have yet to commit funds to construction, with many industry observers arguing that any sign of UK government support for offshore wind weakening risks undermining the future of Dogger Bank.
Asked about UK Conservative party resistance to wind energy, Davey insisted that the problem lies amongst “some Conservative backbenchers”, adding that his colleagues in government continue to be “constructive”. But he let slip that an announcement about investment in a new UK gas-fired power station is likely to be made within the next few days.
Commenting on whether the government will commit itself to a target of total decarbonisation for the UK energy sector by 2030, Davey said: “I want this to be a consensus across all political parties, just as we had a consensus about the Climate Change Act.”
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