A Spanish-backed offshore wind farm is at the centre of about £10 billion ($13.72bn) in fresh foreign capital for Britain’s green economy, after the UK netted deals before the Global Investment Summit.
Electric utility company Iberdrola plans to invest £6bn through Scottish Power in the East Anglia Hub offshore wind farms, creating 7,000 jobs, subject to securing planning consent and a contract for difference.
The investment is one of 18 new trade and investment deals that will support green growth and create 18,000 jobs secured by London's GIS, which takes place on Tuesday and will feature global names such as Microsoft's co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.
The package of deals will boost growth in vital sectors such as wind and hydrogen energy and sustainable homes, as well as carbon capture and storage as Britain’s pushes ahead with its ambitious bid to be net-zero by 2050.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the “the world’s top investors” saw the potential in the UK for growth and innovation in the industries of the future.
“The fantastic £9.7bn of new investment … will power our economic recovery, creating thousands of jobs and helping to level up across the country,” he said.
Mr Johnson said the deals were “just the start” as the country looked ahead to the Cop26 environmental summit in Glasgow, Scotland, next month and beyond.
At the GIS, trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, lauded the recent expansion of the Strategic Investment Partnership with the UAE as an example of the "strategic and high-value deals" Britain is now forming with the world's "largest and fastest growing economies".
The deal, secured last month, saw Mubadala Investment Company commit £9bn to Britain’s technology, infrastructure and energy transition in addition to the £800 million already pledged to the life sciences sector in March, complemented by an injection of UK £200m from the UK government.
The UK is working flat out out to maximise its potential as a global hub for trade and investments," said Ms Trevelyan.
"Our office of investment, under the leadership of my colleague Lord Gerry Grimstone is helping secure the most strategic and high-value deals. This office was launched by the prime minister as his personal commitment that the UK is open to those who want to realise their ambitions here."
Ms Trevelyan also pointed to Britain's eight freeports, which include the DP World-backed Thames Freeport, that allow companies to import and export from the UK under simplified customs, tax and planning rules.
"We are working through our new trade and investment hubs to provide on the ground expertise for investors and to help channel funding to every region and nation of the UK. This is global Britain in action, looking outward to embrace new opportunities," Ms Trevelyan said.
In a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg, Mr Johnson touched on the UK’s post-Brexit fishing row with France, the Northern Ireland Protocol and Chinese investment in the UK.
He said Britain would remain open to accepting capital from Chinese companies for projects but insisted it would not take a “naive” approach towards its dealings with Beijing.
Mr Johnson pointed to London communities such as Greenwich, Vauxhall and Nine Elms where “things have taken off there because of Chinese investment”.
He said the government was not going to “pitchfork away every overture from China” but at the same time acknowledged that apprehension over the 5G network and Chinese involvement in nuclear power are “legitimate concerns [for] any government”.
“But I have said this many times, it is worth repeating, I am no Sinophobe. Very far from it, I think,” he said.
Looking ahead to the UN's climate summit in Glasgow, which will run from October 31 to November 12, Mr Johnson said he would be looking to other world leaders to join him in making “commitments on coal, cars, cash and trees”, including a move away from fossil fuel coal by 2040 for developing countries and 10 years earlier for developed nations.
“We want a big package for the developing world to help countries that haven’t been historic emitters to cut their carbon, so we need that $100 billion a year, we need that $100 billion and the last thing is we want to make sure we plant millions and millions of trees to help to fix the carbon and to restore the balance of nature," he said.
"We need the nationally determined contributions, we need to keep the [goal of a] 1.5ºC [rise above preindustrial levels] alive, we need to restrict the growth in temperatures to 1.5ºC by the end of the century.”
“We think that with the commitments that we are seeing, we could do it but we are going to need to see some real action from the participants in Glasgow.”
The GIS aims to advance the government’s 10-point plan for a greener economy, unveiled by Mr Johnson in November last year with a pledge to invest £12bn in the transition away from fossil fuels.
The summit will demonstrate how the £12bn is creating and supporting UK jobs and make the case for global investment in Britain’s green economy.
Iberdrola’s investment will create the company’s biggest offshore wind development in the world and supply enough green energy to power 2.7 million British homes.
The utility company shares Mr Johnson’s 10-point plan vision, according to chairman Ignacio Galan, with its £6bn investment “a significant step to achieving enough offshore wind to power every UK home by 2030”.
Meanwhile, global logistics company Prologis intends to invest £1.5bn over the next three years to develop net-zero carbon warehouses across London, the South-East and Midlands, supporting about 14,000 new jobs.
“We believe private sector innovation has, and will continue, to play a major role in overcoming the environmental challenges the world faces today,” said Hamid Moghadam, chief executive of Prologis, which is based in California in the US.
The £9.7bn secured by Britain through the GIS event is in addition to the £5.8bn already committed for sustainable projects since Mr Johnson unveiled his 10-point plan a year ago.
The GIS will have 200 global business leaders and top investors gather at the Science Museum in London to examine how the private sector can help the UK to reach global net zero targets and achieve green growth.
At the summit, the government will also unveil a new Investment Atlas – an online platform to help international investors identify and execute high priority investment opportunities across the UK.
To date, 53 are on the Atlas, each with a strong sustainability element, including offshore wind substructures in Scotland, manufacturing ports in Teesside and Humber, and sustainable food systems delivery in Telford.
“The UK is the best investment destination in the world and our Investment Atlas will help to drive more investment into green industries across the UK, and make it easier for businesses to make decisions on where and what to invest in,” said International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who will also attend GIS.
“These investment deals announced today will create jobs, boost the economy, spread prosperity and level up the country as we build back better and greener.”
The government is unveiling its net zero strategy this week, setting out how the UK will deliver on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
On Tuesday morning, ministers announced plans for £5,000 grants to enable households to replace their gas boilers with heating systems that produce lower emissions.
Speaking to Sky News, Ms Trevelyan said the “enormous and far-reaching package” would help the UK achieve its goal of becoming net zero by 2050.
Ms Trevelyan said the programme would be voluntary and would be aimed at encouraging people to choose greener sources of energy when looking at ways to heat their homes.
“This is a journey, it is a transition. When we talk about net zero, this is a journey we are all on together and the prime minister is committed to give a framework that means we can all participate as citizens in helping meet that net zero challenge,” she said.