Boris Johnson promises a UK offshore wind revolution – but China holds the monopoly on vital ‘rare earth’ metals

It wasn’t so long ago that the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, said wind turbines “couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding”. He now seems to have undergone something of a Damascene conversion, promising to boost the government’s target for offshore wind deployment to 40 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. Enough, he claims, to power every home in the country.

Offshore wind energy is cheaper than gas power stations or nuclear power, so economically this is a policy no-brainer. The Committee on Climate Change has stated that the UK’s offshore wind capacity should be 75GW by 2050 to achieve net-zero emissions, while others imagine even more ambitious scenarios, so redoubling commitment to offshore wind is welcome.

The government estimates the policy will support up to 60,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030. How many of these turbines will be made in the UK is unclear, but “government sources” are alleged to have promised that 60% will originate in Britain. An independent assessment concluded the government would need to commit almost £50 billion (USD$64.5 billion) to pull this off – substantially more than the £160 million currently pledged to upgrade the UK’s ports and factories.

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