On Wednesday, Boris announced his impressive, if rather hopeful, plan for the UK’s “Green Industrial Revolution”.
The £12bn revolution is made up of 10 key policies, which will lead to the creation of 250,000 jobs.
As per the gov.uk website, the policies are:
- Offshore wind: Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
- Hydrogen: Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.
- Nuclear: Advancing nuclear as a clean energy source, across large scale nuclear and developing the next generation of small and advanced reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.
- Electric vehicles: Backing our world-leading car manufacturing bases including in the West Midlands, North East and North Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles.
- Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport of the future.
- Jet Zero and greener maritime: Supporting difficult-to-decarbonise industries to become greener through research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.
- Homes and public buildings: Making our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, whilst creating 50,000 jobs by 2030, and a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
- Carbon capture: Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030, equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber today.
- Nature: Protecting and restoring our natural environment, planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year, whilst creating and retaining thousands of jobs.
- Innovation and finance: Developing the cutting-edge technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions and make the City of London the global centre of green finance.
In theory, every single point sounds great – climate change needs to be tackled and committing to such bold targets will set the UK apart as a world leader in sustainability and sustainable technology.
But for this to become a reality, what will be the impacts on the Transport & Infrastructure sectors?
Of the 10 points, there are 7 that will have the most impact on our sectors from a people and talent perspective; Offshore Wind, Hydrogen, Nuclear, Electric Vehicles, Public Transport, Jet Zero and Carbon Capture.
Here’s how we predict our sectors will react to the changes.
1. Offshore Wind
To quadruple how much energy is produced by offshore wind in 10 years The Crown Estate will need to release a lot more of the seabed. This means that we will probably see a flurry of bidding activity to win the leases initially.
But we are already seeing this happen, and developers and consultancies are relatively well set up for bidding and tendering already. Where I think we will see the biggest change will be when it comes to actually mobilising the projects.
We expect to see developers ramping up their capabilities within Programme Management, as the industry matures in it’s approach to capital delivery and each developer may have multiple projects running concurrently a programme approach will need to be taken. To deliver offshore projects on this scale will be new to the UK Offshore Wind sector and will require bringing in additional project management skills from other sectors or from overseas.
2. Hydrogen & Carbon Capture
Hydrogen and Carbon Capture are both brand new technologies, which aren’t out there yet. This means that there aren’t people out there with these skills sets to recruit.
In order to realistically get anywhere near achieving these two targets, skills bodies will need to be set up to ensure that we have the talent available to follow through.
And the government must learn from mistakes made with HS2 – where the High Speed college has come in for considerable criticism that it wasn’t training people in the skills the industry has shortages in. Government will need to consult with industry to see what skills are necessary to deliver the targets.
Similarly, real progress in Hydrogen and Carbon Capture will be largely dependent on what incentives are offered to companies to develop schemes. If energy companies are incentivised with R&D funding or tax breaks to roll out schemes, then activity will likely happen a lot quicker.
Both Hydrogen and Carbon Capture offer great opportunities for consulting firms, so it is likely that we will see them focusing more in these areas.
An issue that the UK has had with nuclear new build, is that we don’t do enough (or indeed hardly any) of it to enable us to get better at it. Whenever there is a pipeline of projects in a particular engineering skillset the industry progressively learns from each of the projects that came before. When there is a gap of 25-30 years from one to the next of a type of project, the lessons learnt are largely lost.
The proposed small nuclear reactors (SNRs) could be a real game changer for the sector. They will mean that reactors can be built quicker and on a much larger scale. Projects will benefit from economies of scale in that the same models can be emulated again and again.
However, this again is brand new technology, so it’s going to take a while to get off the ground. If the UK Government agrees to match private sector funding of SNRs we would expect to see a big surge in recruitment of Research & Development people.
4. Electric Vehicles
The obvious plot hole for meeting electric vehicle targets is how are they going to be charged?
An awful lot of charging points are going to have to spring up in the next 10 years to make this feasible. Will this come down to local authorities, or will the government allow the private sector to own, install and manage them?
Assuming it is the local authorities’ responsibility, we can expect to see them working with consultancies to figure out a game plan – how many are needed? Where will the go? And how will they be funded?
5. Active Transport
While active transport is a key aspect of transport, this isn’t a new initiative.
Many parts of the UK have been working on increasing cycle lanes and pedestrianising streets for a long time now, so I don’t think that we will see too much impact on talent in this area from this weeks’ announcement. It will most likely continue to steadily increase as it has been doing for the past few years.
6. Jet Zero
As with a lot of the policies, this will be heavily research and development focused for a long while, before we see any tangible end product. A key impact for the transport and infrastructure sector here is that Jet Zero (if deliverable) would completely change the debate on airport expansion.
If zero emission planes really are a reality within 10 or even 20 years’ time, then you negate the air quality and carbon issues that have hindered Heathrow’s expansions plans.
While there are obviously other factors to take into consideration for airport expansion than emissions alone, this is a huge factor to eradicate.
The Government’s 10 point plan to revolutionise the UK, sounds great. They are saying all the right things, so let’s hope that the transport & infrastructure sectors are given the facility they need to make these plans a reality.