It has been a busy week for wind energy.
First came the good news – a massive investment in offshore wind in the UK. Although the UK leads the world in offshore wind generation, that is mainly because so little of it has been built anywhere. But a vote of confidence in the UK’s prospects came from three wind turbine manufacturers who announced on Monday they would set up shop on the UK’s north-east and eastern coasts.
General Electric, Siemens and Gamesa are arriving, with more than £300m in investment promised and the creation of an estimated 3,000 jobs. (That is direct jobs – more will follow along the supply chain.)
Masdar City was meant to be the world’s first carbon neutral city. Based in Abu Dhabi, its creators envisioned a glittering city in the desert, entirely self-powered, and after the initial building stage, having no net effect on the world’s carbon emissions.
But the plans have taken a major knock in the last 18 months. Lending for real estate dried up in the wake of the Dubai financial crisis, companies proved reluctant to move in to the new commercial space and the developers quickly realised their initial plans for the energy mix were too ambitious.
Earlier this month, the company confirmed it would cut up to $3.3bn from its budget after a 10-month strategy review. Last week, days after the results of the review were announced, I talked to the company’s CEO, Sultan al-Jaber, and the city’s director, Alan Frost, about their plans for the future.
The British government has finally announced what we have known for a while: that it will keep in place the £60m of investment pledged by the last government to improve infrastructure for offshore wind.
David Cameron told the CBI annual conference:
To help secure private sector investment in this technology, we’re providing up to £60 million to meet the needs of offshore wind infrastructure at our ports. And to help move things forward, the Crown Estate will also work with interested ports and manufacturers to realise the potential of their sites.
It’s a triple win. It will help secure our energy supplies, protect our planet and the Carbon Trust says it could create 70,000 jobs.
Siemens has tied up a deal with Masdar, the carbon-neutral city being built in Abu Dhabi, to base its Middle East HQ there and to help develop the city’s smart grid and other infrastructure.
Siemens will also work on CCS working in collaboration with academics at the Masdar Institute.
It’s a rare piece of good news for Masdar, which has recently been beset by problems, and is important in showing that Western companies are still willing to work with it on this unique project. But how is the project proceeding otherwise? I will be asking that question to its CEO later on this afternoon.