The North West of England has enough renewable energy potential to meet its future energy demands twice over, according to a new report from the North West Green Energy Task Force.
The taskforce – commissioned in 2022 by metro mayors Andy Burnham (Manchester) and Steve Rotheram (Liverpool), is made up of of Dale Vince’s Green Britain Foundation, Climate Outreach and Co-operatives UK, to investigate opportunities to develop renewable resources in the region and develop a replicable model to work to net zero.
Its report, unveiled at the Sustainability Show in Manchester on Saturday 8 July, revealed that a combination of wind, solar, tidal and green gas could generate a potential energy supply of 92TWh per year, more than double the forecasted demand of 46TWh per year.
As well as mapping out the green energy potential of the Greater Manchester and Liverpool City regions, the report includes research from Climate Outreach on how to engage local communities in achieving net zero, and a exploration of models of ownership from Co-operatives UK.
Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK, said: “Co-operative ownership allows us to get all stakeholders involved: public, private and community. We’ll unlock local solutions, foster innovation and deliver that deeper sense of ownership. A sustainable and inclusive energy landscape needs co-operative ownership.”
She warned: “Without local engagement and buy-in we won’t win the fight against climate change. By placing power in the hands of communities, we’ll accelerate the transition to clean and renewable energy sources; cultivating a sense of shared responsibility and inspiring individuals to take action.”
Dale Vince, green entrepreneur and climate campaigner, said: “The North West Net Zero Youth Network said it best when they told us ‘if you build, they will come’. It shouldn’t need our kids to tell us we need to act, but they’re right. We need to build. We need to build the infrastructure and we need to build a movement to bring people with us.
“The North West can go beyond net zero and become a clean energy superpower. By doing this, it will provide a blueprint for the rest of the UK to follow.
It is imperative to act now, said Burnham. “We are at a crucial moment in time where the decisions we make now around sustainable energy impact not just our environment but our economic success for generations to come.
“Renewable energy presents us with an opportunity of a green industrial revolution, where improving our carbon footprint also reduces people’s energy bills at a time they need it most and creates good, skilled jobs locally.
“The Green Energy Taskforce report highlights the scale and scope of the renewable energy opportunity in the region and proposes ways that new energy assets can be cooperatively funded and owned. I strongly believe that in the North West we can seize these opportunities, which will boost our economy and improve the lives of local people whilst making this a greener place.”
Rotheram, who has set a target of net zero by 2040 for Liverpool, rather than the government’s 2050 goal, added: “The last few years have seen the climate crisis thrust into public consciousness like never before. It presents a challenge on a scale like nothing we have seen – and I believe we all have a moral duty to play our part.
“If trains, docks and canals made our area a leader in the First Industrial Revolution, then our industrial strengths and natural assets in wind, tidal and hydrogen can make us a leader in the Green Industrial Revolution. From Glass Futures, which has the potential to lead the way in the decarbonisation of energy intensive industries, to Mersey Tidal Power which could generate enough predictable, renewable energy to power up to one million homes for 120 years, I believe we have all the skills, capabilities – and political will – to become Britain’s Renewable Energy Coast.
“I will be banging the drum over the next few years for more power, resource and funding from government to ensure that the Liverpool City Region is able to play its part on the journey to net zero – and attract the many thousands of green jobs and benefits it will bring.”