Promoting renewable energy frequently concentrates on the environmental impact of switching from fossil fuels and the associated affects this has on both the climate and weather.* There is another side - if demand for new equipment is high and predictable, manufacturing companies invest and create real jobs. There's news today of exactly that happening - in England.
The German electronics firm Siemens and the UK firm Associated British Ports have announced plans for two sites and a total investment of £316 million (over $500 million) to build and service offshore wind turbines. Siemens already had plans to invest £80m but are to double this to £160m. I should emphasize this cost does not include the actual turbines themselves. This is for the production, assembly and support facilities for wind turbines, likely initially mostly for the North Sea. Siemens produced the turbines for four of the five larges offshore wind farms currently operational.
Siemens will make the turbine blades in a new factory in Paull, North Yorkshire. The nearby new "Green Port" in Hull will be where where the turbines and towers will be assembled prior to being towed out to their operating site. While the two sites are expected to employ 1,000 people directly, more jobs will be opened up as parts are supplied from other companies and, of course, more service jobs in places like restaurants and shops will come to the area.
These facilities are in addition to the work going on sites that previously built oil and gas rigs for the North Sea but are now converting to offshore wind turbine tower construction. Work is also progressing on off-shore wave generation.
The comments by Siemens' spokesman points to how a country can attract such inward investment:
"We invest in markets with reliable conditions that can ensure that factories can work to capacity," said Michael Suess, head of Siemens's energy sector. "The British energy policy creates a favourable framework for the expansion of offshore wind energy. In particular, it recognises the potential of offshore wind energy within the overall portfolio of energy production."To make it clear, with very, very few exceptions, politicians in the UK and EU are not climate change deniers. There is an all party commitment to reducing CO2 emissions even if the way to achieve this is debated, including whether nuclear should be included in the mix. Which leads me to another piece in the news today.
* You will notice that I included affects on both the climate and weather. Ahead of a meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change next week, the UK's Met Office has for the first time indicated that the weather is definitely being affected.
British winters are likely to become milder and wetter like the last one but cold spells still need to be planned for, says the UK Met Office.In other words, the past few years are demonstrating the changes to the climate predicted by global warming models are coming about and two particular aspects are singled out as resulting from human activity. While the Met Office accepts that more work is needed to confirm the co-relation on these and the other weather changes, it now means we are going through the climate instability long expected.
Summers are likely to be hotter and drier, but washouts are still on the cards, it adds.
The assessment of future weather extremes finds the role of human influence is "detectable" in summer heatwaves and in intense rainfall.
But the point of the first part of this diary is that alternatives mean more investment, more jobs and more prosperity for countries whose politicians have a sustained view of the need to move to green energy. That's an argument in favor of moving to green generation, regardless of flat earthers' views of climate change.