Private businesses can fuel a green recovery from the pandemic with billions of pounds of investment in wind farms without relying on government funds, the head of one of the UK’s biggest power producers has said.
Keith Anderson, who leads utility Scottish Power, said that 100,000 jobs could be created in the green economy each year until the middle of the decade, at which point the speed will pick up even more.
His comments come amid a call by the Trades Union Congress for the Government to spend its way out of recession by investing £85 billion in big infrastructure projects that could generate more than one million jobs in the next two years.
But the government could keep some of its money if it creates an environment for businesses to invest, Mr Anderson said.
“Let’s go for it. Let’s go hell for leather, electrify the hell out of everything and start building the infrastructure and you push ahead with it,” Mr Anderson said.
The government has promised to rebuild a “cleaner, greener and more resilient” economy as the UK recovers from the ravages of coronavirus, which would mean big investment in renewable technologies to help decarbonise the UK’s grid.
The Scottish Power boss said it will be vital to focus on technologies that have already been developed, such as wind – one of his company’s specialisms.
But there will still be space for developing new technologies, he added.
“Lots of people are talking about carbon capture and storage, lots of people are talking about blue hydrogen and a switch to green hydrogen. They look like really sensible things for this country to look at,” Mr Anderson said, suggesting that would be a better use of government money than investing in wind turbines, and other things that private companies will happily build cheaply.
But to let that investment in wind farms flow, he called for the Government to get rid of a cap on how many sites it auctions off for wind farms to be built on.
“The only rational that used to exist for thinking about capping was to get competition really, really fierce and drive the cost down,” he said.
Developers were charging hundreds of pounds per megawatt hour just a few years ago.
But in the most recent auction last year, the price plummeted to £39.65, giving customers the cheapest wind power in British history.