Covid-19 should be trigger for wind power boost and green jobs, Boris Johnson says

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Covid-19 crisis should be used as a catalyst for Britain to "build back greener" by investing in green energy and wind power, Boris Johnson will say in a keynote address to the virtual Tory conference on Tuesday.

The prime minister will say the coronavirus outbreak should drive a bid to make the UK a world leader in clean power generation.

Mr Johnson will insist the green economy is a major area for economic growth with the potential to create millions of jobs.

The prime minister will say the coronavirus crisis can be a trigger for a Britain to "build back greener".

The plan would see £160 million made available to upgrade ports and infrastructure across areas like Teesside and Humber in northern England, Scotland and Wales as the next generation of turbines are built.

Mr Johnson will say: "We need to give people the chance to train for the new jobs that are being created every day - in new technologies and new ways of doing things.

"And, there is one area where we are progressing quite literally with gale force speed and that is the green economy - the green industrial revolution that in the next 10 years will create hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs.

"I can today announce that the UK Government has decided to become the world leader in low cost clean power generation – cheaper than coal and gas – and we believe that in 10 years’ time offshore wind will be powering every home in the country, with our target rising from 30 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts."

Mr Johnson states the UK is to wind what Saudi Arabia is to oil.

The prime minister will say: "You heard me right. Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands.

"We will invest £160 million in ports and factories across the country, to manufacture the next generation of turbines.

"And we will not only build fixed arrays in the sea, we will build windmills that float on the sea – enough to deliver one gigawatt of energy by 2030, 15 times as much as the rest of the world put together.

"Far out in the deepest waters we will harvest the gusts, and by upgrading infrastructure in places like Teesside and Humber and Scotland and Wales we will increase an offshore wind capacity that is already the biggest in the world."

Offshore windfarm Credit: Chris Radburn/PA

The prime minister will continue to say: "As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind – a place of almost limitless resource, but in the case of wind without the carbon emissions and without the damage to the environment.

"I remember how some people used to sneer at wind power, 20 years ago, and say that it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding.

"They forgot the history of this country. It was offshore wind that puffed the sails of Drake and Raleigh and Nelson, and propelled this country to commercial greatness.

"This investment in offshore wind alone will help to create 60,000 jobs in this country – and help us to get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050."

Downing Street said the £160 million investment programme "will see around 2,000 construction jobs rapidly created and will enable the sector to support up to 60,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030 in ports, factories and the supply chains, manufacturing the next-generation of offshore wind turbines and delivering clean energy to the UK".

Referring to the controversy over the coronavirus test and trace operation, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said the prime minister should use his speech to deal "with the crisis at hand".

Ms Rayner said: "The testing fiasco over the past 24 hours has again exposed the serial incompetence of Boris Johnson and his Government.

"The prime minister should use his speech to set out how he will get a grip and tackle the crisis at hand."

Green MP Caroline Lucas said: "Investment in offshore wind is welcome.

"For far too long, UK companies have been blocked by a lack of Government support.

"But the Prime Minister’s announcement falls woefully short of a comprehensive green new deal that would actually build a better, greener Britain."

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: "The Prime Minister’s recognition that last year’s Tory manifesto commitment on offshore wind can generate jobs whilst cutting energy bills and carbon is a great lightbulb moment.

"If carried through it would help cement the UK’s global leadership in this key technology. But delivering 40 GWs of power on to the grid by 2030 requires action in this parliament."