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Why green growth means export growth for the UK

Posted by Tom Delay | 23 September 2011 | Viewpoint

Tom Delay, Chief Executive, Carbon Trust, argues that the formation of a low carbon economy brings huge export opportunities

Supply chain - container ship

At the beginning of this week the Carbon Trust and our eight offshore wind developer partners revealed some incredibly innovative technology to help engineers access the wind turbines located far offshore in Round 3 sites.

This competition in itself provides a fascinating insight into the opportunities that green growth will bring. As a sub-set of the overall offshore wind market, finding new technical solutions to access offshore turbines will generate a £2bn market opportunity for the winners. No wonder we received some 450 entries to the competition from all around the world. Businesses, both small and large, are waking up to the market opportunities that the low carbon economy will bring.

Indeed we see offshore wind more widely as a 'once in a generation' opportunity for the UK.

With electricity demand rising by some 10 per cent and with around 25 per cent of the nation's generating infrastructure to replace in a decade offshore, wind should be a core element of our future energy mix. Not only will it offer energy security and carbon abatement but, unlike many other supply options, it brings the chance to generate 'home made' power and attract significant investment into the supply chain and in turn deliver new jobs and economic renewal to parts of the UK.

This race for green growth is happening as clean tech hubs around the UK are increasing vying for inward investment and in some cases to host the newly forming Green Investment Bank.

Indeed I see green growth and the mass rollout of technologies like offshore wind and marine energy (if we can get the costs down) as a real no brainer. It's a fantastic opportunity to help rebalance the economy more in favour of manufacturing and to spread the economic benefits around the UK too.

But I think we must be bolder in our thinking and open our horizons to green growth beyond our own national boundaries. Our analysis has shown that the UK could seize some 45 per cent of the global offshore wind market by 2020. Markets such as China should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat. Indeed we are already active in China trying to unlock market opportunities for UK companies as China and other countries in the Far East create new low carbon markets.

When the Carbon Trust was formed 10 years ago we nailed our colours to the mast. We believed that the low carbon transition could only happen if business was centre stage in investing in low carbon solutions. As economies around the world struggle to expand I believe green growth will become increasingly important for businesses and government growth strategies.

In the UK we are well placed not only to benefit from the rollout of low carbon technologies on our door step to meet our own needs but, given our long history in innovation, to develop technologies and sell into a growing global green growth market.

When we launched we coined and used the phrase 'making business sense of climate change'. We see no need to change it - in fact we only see more reasons and opportunities to keep it.

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