From the TUC

Congress backs clean coal, wind – and green steel

17 Sep 2009, by in Environment

Offering hope where the closure of the Vestas plant left despair, Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband announced at Congress on Wednesday 16 September that the world’s biggest wind turbine blades will be made in Britain – with new Government support.

Presumably spending from Budgets the Tories would cut, he announced Government grants for three offshore wind energy companies. Newcastle-based Clipper wind gets £4.4 million to develop their first prototype 70m blade, the largest wind turbines in the world. Artemis Intelligent Power has £1 million to transfer their existing technology from automotive to wind energy. And Siemens Wind Power UK benefits from £1.1 million to develop the next generation power convertors for their larger offshore turbine.

Delegates also backed the TUC’s call for four new “clean coal” power stations, delivering 6.4 gigawatts of new coal power plant with full-scale carbon capture & storage (CCS). The TUC’s submission to the Government’s consultation on a framework for clean coal estimated that these four new power stations would cut UK emissions of CO2 by 42 million tonnes a year, or 23%, by 2020. Full-scale CCS development in the UK is estimated to create at least 30,000 jobs.

Hopefully, a very public statement of support for clean coal with CCS from this year’s Congress, backed by strong speeches from mining and  energy unions, shows the TUC strongly for a balanced low carbon energy mix for the UK.  We agree there are tens of thousands of green jobs on offering renewables, clean coal and gas and nuclear new build.

But we also have to heed the arguments from Community that none of this will be as welcome without a clear “steel leadership” as well – with the Government setting out a vision for low carbon UK steel in the mix. Unions argue that the high quality, speciality steels needed for wind turbines, power generators, electric cars and many other products essential to our low carbon future must also be made in the UK.

The Minister also help out the hope of new rights for green reps – in the next Manifesto!