Green energy jobs boost but consumers will pay price

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey
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CONSUMERS will be asked to pay higher electricity bills as the price for energy security and hundreds of new green jobs in Yorkshire.

A Government promise on electricity prices has paved the way for one of the biggest offshore windfarms to be built off the Yorkshire coast and for the Drax power station to take another major step towards burning biomass instead of coal.

The two projects were among eight across the country yesterday offered contracts that guarantee a minimum price for power to encourage investment in renewable energy.

Eight schemes, together worth £12bn and creating 8,500 jobs, were given the contracts which Energy Secretary Ed Davey admitted would could add two per cent to electricity bills.

But he insisted that other Government measures would reduce bills overall and there was an urgent need to develop domestic power sources.

“What you’re getting, actually, is secure energy, because this is home-grown energy, particularly with the large five offshore wind farms,” he said.We know with the situation in Ukraine, the concerns about 
energy security.”

DONG Energy said the announcement was a big step towards developing its Hornsea wind farm which could see dozens of turbines built to power around one million homes.

Lord Haskins, chairman of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This large investment in offshore wind, including at Hornsea, adds further confidence to the offshore wind market.

“Coupled with the recent announcement by Siemens and ABP of their £310m investment in a manufacturing base in Hull, and with Grimsby establishing itself as a operations and maintenance base as one of the closest ports to 80 per cent of the North Sea wind farms, this bolsters the Humber’s position as a place to invest in offshore wind and energy in general.”

The Humber is also a key channel for the moving of biomass which the Drax power station is increasingly using to generate electricity rather than coal.

It has already converted one of its six generating units to run on biomass and yesterday the Government offered it a contract to support the conversion of another. However, Drax’s share price fell by more than ten per cent on the news because the company had been expecting two units would qualify for help.

Instead, Ministers have said one of the conversions will be supported through a different subsidy scheme which City experts say will be less lucrative.

Drax confirmed it would challenge the Government’s decision in the courts. Chief executive Dorothy Thompson said: “I am proud of what we have achieved to date and we remain fully committed to our strategy of transforming Drax into a predominantly biomass fuelled generator, initially through the conversion of three of our six generating units, with a fourth unit conversion under evaluation.”