The UK intends to rapidly increase its offshore wind capacity to help reduce its dependence on gas and reach net zero as energy the bills are soaring. But the Conservative Party has been warned of a major hurdle that could throw a wrench in the works as it scrambles to meet its target of generating 50 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.
Ryan Prophet, director of marine services for SafeLane, explained that this could “damage equipment” and “put people’s lives at risk”.
He told Express.co.uk: “You have serious high risk areas in the North Sea.
“There are educated guesses that there are over 100-200,000 tonnes of munitions that were dumped in the North Sea after World War II.
“The main reason for this was that it seemed like the most efficient and cheapest method of removing the ordinance rather than the high costs and disposal fees that would typically have to be paid, not thinking wind farms would be placed here. 80 years later…
“If you have a high UXO risk area, if you enter any form of construction where you are going to interfere with the seabed, there is a risk of detonation.
“For example, if you lay a cable in an area with multiple UXOs, there is a very high risk that you will interact with the UXOs – it could damage equipment but it could also put people’s lives at risk.
“The worst thing that happens with ordnance when it explodes underwater is that it creates an air bubble and having an air bubble under any type of ship is that ‘they can cause enormous damage.”
But there are ways around this that can help energy companies solve this problem, offering a ray of hope for the government’s net zero plans.
“There have been great developments in the way we deal with UXO. We do these surveys for, for example, a wind farm supplier who isolates an area and wants to install a wind farm in a particular area, he can do a Investigate and see what’s there. If they find an area they think is covered in ammo, they’ll probably reconsider using that area. They’ll probably find another area or move.
“We can then come in and investigate the UXOs, we can remove them and dispose of them. All of this can be done safely and with the utmost respect for the environment. »
This is why Mr. Prophet explained that the “barrier” to the deployment of these green energy projects is rather a “mistake of the financial scene”.
It comes as Rishi Sunak, who is battling with Liz Truss to become the next prime minister, signaled his support for offshore wind.
But the former Chancellor has been accused of ‘economic illiteracy’ for pledging to make it harder to build onshore wind farms in England.
Mr Sunak said: “Wind power will be an important part of our strategy, but I want to reassure communities that as Prime Minister I would abandon plans to ease the wind ban. onshore wind in England, focusing instead on building more offshore turbines.”
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Ed Miliband, the shadow climate change secretary, lashed out at Mr Sunak over the plan.
He said: “As Britain boils in an unprecedented heat wave, it is economic illiteracy and one-sided economic disarmament in the fight against the climate crisis that Rishi Sunak wants to keep the ban on onshore wind.”
Mr Sunak also backed down from his original position after falling behind Ms Truss in the polls when he announced he would scrap the green VAT levy on energy bills to save consumers £160 .
But that tax is used to fund projects such as offshore wind and other renewable initiatives, and with UXO proving to be another hurdle, the cost of net zero could rise further.
Although it is widely accepted among climate scientists that it is crucial that the UK pursues its legally binding net zero target to avoid climate catastrophe, critics say the government should “pause to catch its breath before to run further and faster towards a net zero electoral disaster based on unquantified fairy tales.” This comment came from Craig Mackinlay, who chairs the Net Zero Scrutiny Group.
He told The Times in August 2021: “I am not a climate change denier. I fear our voters of the future will huddle around their heat-pump heaters and pay off debt on an electric vehicle they also never wanted as they gaze wistfully at China, Indonesia and more. other countries that still benefit from cheap energy from some of the dirtiest fossil fuels.
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