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Green energy pledges clouded by Bifab collapse

DeepWind offshore

A contract for wind turbines like these off the Scottish coast went to Indonesia

A new green energy plan for the UK has been launched with critics already pointing to the BiFab failure as an example of a failure to deliver on promises of contracts and jobs.

Core parts of the Energy White Paper include commitments to more electric charging points, boosting the hydrogen economy and supporting the transition of the North Sea oil and gas industry to cleaner fuels.

The UK government ‘s Energy White Paper pledges to support up to 220,000 British jobs, and keep bills affordable as country moves towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It builds on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution by setting out specific steps the government will take over the next decade to cut emissions from industry, transport, and buildings “while supporting hundreds of thousands of new green jobs”.

electric vehicle charging

The government wants more electric charging points

Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Through a major programme of investment and reform, we are determined to both decarbonise our economy in the most cost-effective way, while creating new sunrise industries and revitalising our industrial heartlands that will support new green jobs for generations to come.”

Alongside the Energy White Paper, the government has also confirmed that it is to enter negotiations with EDF in relation to the Sizewell C project in Suffolk as it considers options to enable investment in at least one nuclear power station by the end of this Parliament. If the project proceeds, it could create thousands of jobs during construction and operation.

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the CBI, said: “The Energy White Paper is an important next step in our plans to reach our net zero emissions target.

Alok Sharma

Alok Sharma: ‘new green jobs for generations to come’

“Action is needed now, and the welcome focus on job creation around the country, developing sustainable low-carbon industries, and ensuring the transition is fair for consumers will all help us achieve our ambitious climate goals.”

However, critics have said the promises of jobs by both the UK and Scottish governments ring hollow in the light of work being won by foreign companies.

The Fife company BiFab lost out on a wind turbine contract off the Angus coast when it was awarded to an Indonesian firm.

Edinburgh Labour MP and Shadow Scotland Secretary Ian Murray today tweeted: “When the Scottish and UK governments talk about creating green jobs, I didn’t realise they would all be overseas.”

Mr Murray has written to both UK and Scottish Governments calling for a full inquiry into the collapse of Bifab.

“I hope you will deliver on this and that both of Scotland’s governments can launch a full inquiry, looking at all of the evidence, to understand how the decision to abandon 500 green industrial jobs was reached,” he said.

Deloitte was today appointed as BiFab administrator as Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop renewed a pledge to find new work for the Fife company.

“The Scottish Government will continue to do everything in its power to support BiFab’s workers and help forge a new future for the yards in Fife and the Western Isles,” she said.

“We are hopeful that a buyer willing to invest in the business will be found and we will work closely with administrators and trade unions to secure the best possible outcome for the workforce, the yards and local communities.

“We have already had requests for information from interested parties and will share these with the administrators to explore all of the options available.

“I have also contacted Saipem reiterating our commitment to BiFab’s workforce and to the contract to build foundation jackets for the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) project being delivered in Scotland.”

The Energy White Paper outlines a number of targets including:

  1. Investing £1 billion in state-of-the-art carbon capture storage in four industrial clusters by 2030 – sucking carbon out of industrial processes to stop emissions escaping to the air. Four low carbon clusters will be set up by 2030, and at least one fully net zero cluster by 2040, stimulating the market to attract new investors and manufacturers to reinvigorate our industrial heartlands.
  2. Kick-starting the hydrogen economy by working with industry to aim for 5GW of production by 2030, backed up by a new £240m net zero Hydrogen Fund for low carbon hydrogen production.
  3. Investing £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of charge points for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways as well as up to £1 billion to support the electrification of cars, including for the mass-production of the batteries needed for electric vehicles.
  4. Supporting North Sea oil and gas transition for the people and communities most affected by the move away from oil and gas production, ensuring that the expertise of the oil and gas sector be drawn on in developing carbon capture and storage and hydrogen production to provide new green jobs.

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