From offshore wind and electric vehicles to nuclear energy and mining, the energy transition is set to provide the backbone of the UK’s new investment proposition.
At the inaugural Global Investment Summit, held on Tuesday 19 October at the Science Museum, the UK government launched its ‘investment atlas’, an online platform for investment opportunities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, ranging from energy generation to transportation and minerals extraction.
Of the 53 investment opportunities listed on the investment atlas website, roughly half are explicitly to do with the energy transition, excluding sustainable farming and agriculture.
The investment atlas comes following the announcement that investors have pledged nearly £10bn to UK investment projects, creating an estimated 30,000 jobs. Among others, Spanish energy giant Iberdrola has invested £6bn in offshore wind farms in East Anglia.
Discussing the need for green investments, UK prime minister Boris Johnson told the summit on Tuesday that “the [UK] government can’t do it on its own”, adding that “we can deploy hundreds of billions but in the end, it’s the trillions from the market that will make the difference”.
In Scotland and the offshore-wind “super clusters” of Teesside and the Humber in the north of England, opportunities range from the renewables assets themselves to component manufacturing, as the country looks to ramp up the domestic supply chain of renewables.
In the Moray Firth in northern Scotland, the government is looking to establish a manufacturing facility to produce components for floating offshore wind projects in the North Sea. The government has also laid out a hydrogen proposition for foreign investment in north-east Scotland.
Elsewhere, the government is targeting sustainable transport infrastructure. In Coventry and Warwickshire, there are numerous manufacturing and research and development (R&D) projects across electric vehicles, rail and aviation.
In July, Mr Johnson opened the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), a battery manufacturing development facility. Additional projects include the planned West Midlands Gigafactory, an R&D technology park exploring zero-carbon rail technologies and Coventry’s Air-One transport hub, dubbed the world’s first airport for electric flying cars and autonomous drones.
With research organisations dedicated to fusion energy like the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, the investment atlas touts Oxfordshire as the centre for the country’s future nuclear efforts. The government has already committed more than £400m towards new UK fusion programmes.
In its 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution, the government has outlined its intention to build the world’s first commercially viable fusion power plant by 2040.
As technologies such as electric vehicles drive the demand for minerals like lithium and cobalt, the government has also highlighted Cornwall’s mining industry as a potential growth area.
Base metals found in Cornwall range from copper, tin and lithium to cobalt, tungsten and silver. Local company Cornwall Lithium announced last year that it found “globally significant” lithium grades in geothermal waters near Redruth.
Cornish Lithium’s chief executive Jeremy Wrathall said in a statement earlier this year that given the potential to exploit lithium resources in Cornwall, “it is possible that the UK could produce a significant percentage of its lithium demand domestically”.