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Britain's Booming Offshore Wind Industry Could Shield Country Against Russian Gas Volatility
Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but is also vital to national security, says UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey. The British Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament was referring specifically to the tremendous growth of offshore wind farms in the North Sea as a means of protecting the country against Moscow potentially freezing gas exports to Europe as retribution for Western sanctions. Davey also condemned Russia’s takeover of Crimea in its standoff with Ukraine.
While most of Russia’s gas exports end up in continental Europe (supplying around a third of Europe’s gas), a freeze could drive up the price of gas on the international market, which would directly impact the UK. As of 2010, the country generated over 40 percent of its electricity from gas. However, an offshore wind energy boom has transformed the nation’s electricity sector. In February, offshore wind generated 11 percent of the UK’s electricity. The UK is the world leader in offshore wind generation with the world’s largest offshore wind farm — the 175-turbine London Array in the Thames Estuary with a capacity of 630 megawatts.
Davey’s remarks came after Tuesday’s announcement from German wind turbine maker Siemens that the company plans to invest £160 million in wind turbine production and installation facilities in Yorkshire. The proposed manufacturing site would create 1,000 jobs.
“[Windfarms] are not just the local providers of green energy we need for our low-carbon future, but play an important role at a time of international uncertainty that we see with now Russia and Crimea,” Davey told The Guardian newspaper at the site of the future Siemens facilities at Green Port Hull.
However, despite the growth of clean energy sources such as offshore wind, some conservative politicians and commentators in the UK are calling for fracking shale gas as a way to reduce dependence on Russian gas imports. Meanwhile, the UK is set to start buying gas from Russia for the first time this year based on a deal signed in 2012.
Via The Guardian
Images via Siemens UK
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