Opinion: Would we really see faster climate action by nationalising offshore wind?

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Photo credit: Image by David Kaspar Willmann via Pixabay

By Anders Lorenzen

In the coming years, governments will have to fork out billions, as climate change wreaks havoc on our society. This will have implications for our infrastructure, housing, health and the economy. There will be an enormous bill, which can only mean that we will have to pay a lot more in tax.

Therefore, it makes no sense spending money on something that already works, especially when that would very likely make it more inefficient.

The UK’s main political opposition party, the Labour Party, seems to have been struck by climate fever. This is, of course, something we should celebrate. They have announced a policy to build 37 new offshore wind farms, at a cost of around £83 billion for the taxpayer.

But while we have to extend offshore wind rapidly, make no doubt about it, this is a disastrous policy. Labour has argued that this policy would speed up the building of offshore wind farms. But statements such as these make it clear that the party has no idea how the industry works; such a project will not speed up the clean energy transition.

The answer is not to take the energy sector into public hands, but rather to set a pathway with frameworks and regulations to provide a clear direction for future energy policy, attractive and open to private investment.

There are many things that should not be trusted to private companies, but energy is not one of them. That things are not moving fast enough, is not the fault of the clean energy sector, which is often operating within poor regulations not fit for the 21st century. Some, for example, the Danish company Orsted, have completely reorganised their business arena to focus on green energy

The Energy industry is a fast-moving industry. And it is precisely the innovative spirit amongst some companies that enable them to attract the best and most talented people. Some of these people earn high salaries, which explains why we have come so far in the energy revolution. It is companies like Orsted which gambled big on offshore wind when no one else did and did it when it was also really expensive. And because of that action, offshore wind is one of the most exciting clean energy technologies around. It is not right that the taxpayer should have to fund such things.

More importantly, the sector could suffer a devastating blow, stifling innovation if there were moves to take it into public hands.

And it also needs to be said there is no evidence to suggest that an industry performs better when taken into public hands. Quite the contrary, there would be more bureaucracy and outdated and old-fashioned ways of operating.

Even though offshore wind has come far if still has more things to do. It can still become more efficient. Creating substations on the sea to support offshore wind farms, as well as interconnections between countries, is at its early stages as is the development of exciting offshore wind floating technology. The top wind turbine manufacturers such as Vestas and Siemens are building bigger and more powerful offshore wind turbines. This means you can generate more and more energy with less but more powerful turbines. It would be a shame to slow down this innovation and, fundamentally, why try to fix something that is not broken?

And if there’s one area where we need competition then it is in offshore wind. It is one field where we need the fundamentals of the free-market (and its capacity to take risks), not controlled by the government.

Labour, if you win power, there are so many things you could do to help tackle the climate crisis. Nationalising offshore wind is not one of them!

 

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