The huge piece of engineering you see behind me in this picture is a wind turbine blade. In fact, it’s the longest wind turbine blade in the world!
Climate change is one of the most urgent challenges we face, and politicians must face up to our responsibilities to act now.
It will be crucial to ensure we generate all our energy in a way that’s clean, green and sustainable. I believe it’s therefore my responsibility, as a Member of Parliament, to learn about the emerging technological advances that will one day allow us to generate all our energy from renewable sources.
A few months ago, I visited Swansea to discuss plans for the ‘Tidal Lagoon’ project that could generate clean electricity for more than 150,000 homes. This would be a significant step towards truly low carbon power in the UK and make us world leaders in this technology. Unfortunately, the government announced it was dropping investment for this innovative scheme last month. I challenged government ministers in parliamentary questions on why climate change appears to have such a low priority on the Tories’ agenda.
Last week, I travelled to Blyth on the Northumbrian coast to visit the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. This remarkable facility acts as a hub for the development of new technology to support offshore renewable energy, including wind, marine and tidal energy.
Both visits were part of a fellowship I am undertaking with the Industry and Parliament Trust, focusing on renewable energy. This programme allows me to meet those working across the energy industry in the UK to understand the challenges in moving towards a low-carbon economy.
There’s a clear moral case for investment in renewable energy technology. But there’s also an economic argument. The UK has huge potential to generate energy through offshore renewable sources. And ORE forecast that by 2040 there could be 23,000 UK jobs related to marine energy alone!
The reason I travelled all the way to Blyth to visit this facility is that its work has implications much closer to home. Bristol is home to a number of companies that are working in the zero-carbon energy sector; and there are many researchers at Bristol University working to perfect and improve the technology which will allow us to generate renewable energy efficiently and cost-effectively in the future.
However, all this innovation requires investment, infrastructure and – in many cases – government support. The government has given warm words to investment in green energy in their Industrial Strategy, but their recent actions tell a different story.
I was proud to stand as a candidate and be re-elected on a Labour manifesto that was committed to renewable energy projects such as those being pioneered by the ORE Catapult. I’ll keep informing myself about emerging green energy technology, and I’ll do everything I can to get the government to support renewable energy infrastructure.