New action plan set out for South West energy opportunities

Astley Media
Authored by Astley Media
Posted Tuesday, March 22, 2022 - 11:21am

On 11th March the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership met with Western Power Distribution, EDF Energy, Regen SW, the South West Energy Hub, and local Government partners for an Energy Deep Dive roundtable, to discuss the challenges and opportunities for the South West’s energy sector.

The Heart of the South West LEP is delivering the area’s Build Back Better plan, which aims to drive clean and inclusive growth. The plan sets an ambition to capitalise on the nuclear and renewable energy potential in the region, and to become the country’s green energy powerhouse.

The roundtable event was held against a backdrop of sharply rising prices, the UK’s drive to net zero 2050, and economic turbulence from global events. Electricity usage is predicted to grow sharply over the next couple of decades, by as much as three times current levels by 2050, driven by growth in electric vehicles and the transition from gas. Renewable energy is the biggest source of electricity generation within this growth, followed by nuclear power.

The region has huge potential for low carbon energy generation which will deliver economic benefits locally and the wider UK. The Heart of the South West has world-leading research assets including the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and the Heart of the South West is home to both the Met Office and the UK Hydrographic Office. Other innovative projects in the region, supported through Heart of the South West LEP funding, include the Somerset Energy & Innovation Centre, the National College for Nuclear (SW Hub), and the Gravity Enterprise Zone. In addition, the new nuclear power station being built at Hinkley Point is creating 25,000 new jobs, with £4.1 billion spent within the region by EDF Energy to date.

Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) offers a similar economic opportunity for the area, with the South West well-poised to capitalise on the building, maintenance and servicing of new offshore wind facilities built in the Celtic Sea. 

The LEP and local partners agreed eight immediate priorities for the next 12 months, including enabling growth in grid capacity; securing the long term economic legacy from Hinkley Point, anchoring the nuclear sector in the Heart of the SW; enabling large scale FLOW energy generation and replicating the success of Hinkley in contributing to economic growth; supporting continued growth in community energy generation; developing a green skills and supply chain programme for the region; establishing clean growth clusters in the Enterprise Zones in Plymouth, east of Exeter and outside Bridgwater; helping to shape national and local funding to deliver these priorities; and developing a clean energy conference to showcase the opportunities in the wider south west.

David Ralph, Chief Executive at the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “The South West has the potential to be the country’s powerhouse for renewable and nuclear energy, leading the way in the future of clean energy. The priorities set out for the next year seek to build upon our current strengths and capabilities, and take actionable steps towards achieving clean growth in the region.”

Find out more about the Heart of the South West LEP here:

Find out more about the Build Back Better plan here: 


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