Sir Keir Starmer has, at this week’s Labour Party conference, pledged to establish the UK as a “clean energy superpower” if they win the next election, by launching Great British Energy – a publicly owned, but independently run renewable energy company able to build new projects and invest in privately-owned schemes.
Comparing the company to EDF in France or Vattenfall in Sweden, the Labour Party leader said that the new company would “take advantage of the opportunities in clean British power”, aiming to ensure a huge expansion in clean energy, to boost the country’s energy independence and reduce energy bills in the short and long term.
Sir Starmer began his speech by disagreeing with the economic plan unveiled by the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, stating that the Tories had “lost control of the British economy” and that they are “gambling the mortgages and finances of every family in the country”. He highlighted that the largest onshore wind farm in Wales is owned by Sweden, China has a stake in the UK’s nuclear industry and millions of people pay their bills to an energy company in France and went on to say:
“I will never accept that the war (in Ukraine) is an excuse for how unprepared Britain was to tackle the fallout. The war didn’t ban onshore wind, the war didn’t scrap home insulation, the war didn’t stall British nuclear energy. The Tories did that.”
Labour’s green prosperity plan would reportedly look to double the amount of onshore wind and more than quadruple the amount of offshore wind power. Solar farms were also backed in the speech, with a vow to treble the amount of solar power, to not only contribute to “cheaper bills and higher living standards”, but also help boost the rural economy.
“Clean energy is already cheaper than fossil fuels. Nine times cheaper. We just need more of it,” Sir Starmer said. “Some nation is going to lead the world in offshore wind. Why not this one? Some nation will win the race for electric vehicles. Why not us? Some nation will be the first to harness new hydrogen power. Why not Britain?” he added.
Reaction to the speech has been understandably positive from the renewables and environmental sectors. Greenpeace UK’s head of politics Rebecca Newsom said:
“The only way out of this mess is a moonshot mission to roll out a renewables based energy system that can lower bills, cut emissions, create jobs and break our dependence on gas markets and fossil fuel autocrats. Labour seems to have understood that, the Conservatives don’t.”
While the Solar Energy UK Chief Executive, Chris Hewett, stated
“The entire solar industry will be very happy with the warm support for the industry given by Kier Starmer today. It is very welcome that the Labour leadership is so clearly aware of the huge benefits offered by cheap, clean solar power, rather than undermining one of the fastest growing industries in the country.”