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Clean Growth Grand Challenge

The UK’s low carbon economy could grow around 11% a year to 2030 – four times faster than the rest of the economy.

One year ago, the UK Government launched its modern Industrial Strategy: a long-term plan to boost productivity by backing businesses to create good jobs and increase the earning power of people throughout the country. And we are embracing the challenges that our world presents to us.

We’re focusing on four key areas where Britain can lead the world in the coming technological revolution. These ‘Grand Challenges’ – in the artificial intelligence and data-driven revolution, the global shift to clean growth, the future of mobility (in the way that people, goods and services move around the world), and the opportunity of our ageing society – are being tackled by the best from the public and private sector. Doing so will put the UK at forefront of the industries of the future.

The Clean Growth Grand Challenge aims to support UK industry towards a global shift to cleaner economic growth.

What is clean growth and why does it matter?

The UK’s low carbon economy could grow around 11 per cent a year to 2030 – four times faster than the rest of the economy. The world is shifting to clean growth, driven by the Paris climate agreement, meaning significant investment and the growth of significant global markets in clean technologies, systems and services. Of the 11.5 trillion dollars expected to be invested into new power generation by the middle of the century, almost nine in every ten dollars will go to low-carbon electricity generation. Electric vehicles are projected to make up over half of global car sales by 2040, up from around one per cent now. The UK is already a global leader in many of these sectors with the most installed offshore wind capacity in the world, world leading green finance capabilities and world class low carbon design and services used around the world.

Clean Growth is a huge opportunity for the UK and, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report published in October provided a stark reminder of, we need enhanced global efforts to tackle climate change. October also saw the first Green GB and NI week to raise awareness of the need and opportunity to tackling climate change – highlighting the message that it’s not just that we need to go green – it’s that we should want to because it makes economic sense to do so.

This is why the Government set the Clean Growth Grand Challenge to maximise the opportunities from clean growth. We will capitalise on the UK’s world-leading capabilities in offshore wind, electric vehicles, smart energy systems and green finance and develop others to put us at the forefront of the technologies, systems and services that the world will need to tackle climate change.

What’s the Government doing?

The UK has installed more offshore wind than any other country, while moving away from coal. We’ve brought down bills by improving the efficiency of our homes and workplaces and reduced emissions from our heavy industry and waste, whilst supporting innovation in low carbon vehicles, green finance and smart energy systems.

We recognise there is much more to do. Last year we published our Clean Growth Strategy, setting out plans for the decade ahead, including investing over £2.5 billion in clean growth innovation.  Since then, we have announced more support for innovation and driving ambitious policy forward such as the next Contract for Differences auction. We have set an ambitious mission to at least halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030 and we will publish a Green Finance Strategy in 2019 to set the UK at the forefront of the growing global finance markets.

How can business take part?

Businesses in the UK are already clean growth pioneers. One in five electric cars bought in Europe this year was built in the UK. Bloomberg’s London headquarters, designed by British architects, is the most energy efficient office building in the world. We’re supporting leading clean growth businesses – from innovation investment to export support.

Further, we know there is significant potential for UK businesses of all types and size to save money and energy and reduce carbon emissions – and one of the best ways to do this is by improving energy efficiency.  Government analysis shows that up to £6 billion could be saved by 2030 through investment in cost-effective energy-saving technologies – underpinning government’s ambition to support businesses and industry to improve energy efficiency by at least 20 per cent by 2030.

What has the Government achieved a year on?

Since we published our Industrial and Clean Growth Strategies we’ve seen real progress. We’ve continued our success in renewables: the first floating offshore wind farm in the world is now running off the west coast of Scotland and we opened the world’s biggest offshore windfarm in Cumbria.

Through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, government is investing hundreds of millions of pounds with industry to develop low-carbon technologies including batteries, buildings and agriculture. Swansea University’s SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre is a prime example: with £36 million investment, they are establishing an Active Buildings Centre to develop buildings that can generate and store their own energy.

In the first Green GB Week, government announced a package of measures to transform energy infrastructure to make it cleaner, including the launch of £320 million government fund in low-carbon heat networks match funded by industry, alongside proposals for new laws for smart energy appliances.  

Case study – Walney Extension Wind Farm – Green Electricity from the world’s biggest offshore wind farm

The UK is a world leader in offshore wind, responsible for over 40% of all offshore and wind projects in Europe  

  • Walney Extension is the world’s largest offshore wind farm – opened on 6 September 2018 in the Irish Sea.
  • It covers 145 km2, an area equivalent to 20,000 Holker Street football pitches, home to Barrow A.F.C.
  • The 87 turbines are capable of powering almost 600,000 homes. One blade rotation can power a typical household for 29 hours.
  • 250 new jobs will be supported by the operations and maintenance phase of the project.
  • It is sourcing components from UK factories, helping to build the supply chain.
  • Walney Extension was one of the first offshore wind farm projects to be awarded an early Contract for Difference (CfD) by the UK Government. This gave the developers, Ørsted and its partners PFA and PKA and tier one suppliers the confidence to make important investment decisions on projects and new facilities.
  • With each round of competitive auctions, the strike price of offshore wind has reduced as the industry has developed and is able to leverage economies of scale, a growing supply chain and advances in wind turbine technology – creating opportunities for local contractors and service providers, as well as manufacturers across the UK.
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