HS2 second phase receives Royal Assent
MPs have given the go-ahead to the next phases of Britain’s high speed rail network, with the bill approving the building of HS2 Phase 2A north from the West Midlands to Crewe achieving Royal Assent.
Parliament’s approval for this new phase plugs the line into one of the country’s principal rail hubs in Crewe, and means the 58km (36 miles) route will be built earlier than originally planned.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said by proceeding full steam ahead, it is delivering on its commitment to unite the country.
"The construction of Phase 2a will support thousands of jobs and create opportunities for local businesses as we build back better," he said.
HS2 Phase 2a will support around 5,000 jobs, with many more in the supply chain. In addition, the rail line will support 140 permanent jobs at its maintenance base near Stone in Staffordshire.
HS2 CEO Mark Thurston said: "Parliament’s approval for extending HS2 beyond the West Midlands to the North is a clear sign that MPs recognise the enormous potential of this scheme and continue to give their strong support.
"As the first major railway built in the North for over 100 years, HS2 will spur massive economic growth for our towns and cities, help to level up the country, and provide cleaner, greener public transport for millions.
"As construction starts, this new phase of work will very quickly support 5,000 jobs in the North, with many more in the supply chain, further cementing HS2’s critical role in Britain’s economic recovery from the pandemic."
Once operational, high speed services operating between London, Birmingham and Crewe will use the newly-constructed high speed line – delivering extra capacity, improved reliability and reducing journey times.
These services will then join the existing network to create direct services to Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow. Crewe is also the station for connections to North Wales and Shrewsbury.
Dr Kieran Mullan, MP for Crewe & Nantwich said extending the HS2 line to Crewe is a major step towards levelling up the north. "It is crucial to bringing new jobs and opportunities to our town and for creating better local rail connections as we free up the currently overly congested line West Coast Main Line," he said.
Passenger services will start between HS2’s stations at London Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street between 2029-33. Phase 2a’s opening will be aligned with the London-Birmingham route.
Sara Williams, CEO of Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce said extending the high speed line northwards will generate thousands of contract opportunities for local businesses of all sizes and their involvement will provide a vital boost for the Staffordshire economy.
There are 240 sites now active along the Phase One route, employing over 13,000 people and over 400 apprenticeships.
Anti-HS2 protesters camped out in tunnels dug near Euston station recently lost a High Court bid to block an operation to remove them, as their colleagues targeted the Department for Transport by smearing its headquarters with pink paint.
HS2 Chairman Allan Cook is to resign in July, leaving his successor a range of operational, design and construction issues. To read a summary of the key challenges that await the next Chairman, click here.
Masdar, PT PLN begin work on floating PV solar project
UAE-based renewable energy company Masdar, in partnership with PT PLN, an organisation specialising in electrical power and owned by the Indonesian government, has announced today it has started work on a floating photovoltaic (PV) solar project in West Java. The company says the 145MW plant is the first of its kind in the country. The project, which will be constructed on the Cirata reservoir in West Java, was financed by the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Societe Generale, and Standard Chartered Bank.
Developing the project is PT Pembangkitan Jawa Bali Masdar Solar Energi (PMSE), a joint venture between Masdar and PT PLN subsidiary PT PJBI. Bahlil Lahadalia, Minister of Investment for the Republic of Indonesia and chairman of the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, said: “This is a flagship project of the UAE’s investment in Indonesia, and most importantly, it is in line with the Indonesian Government’s target to increase renewable energy by 23% by 2025.”
Ladhadalia added: “The Ministry of Investment fully supports the investment realisation of the Cirata Floating Solar Project by PT PJBI and Masdar.” The plant is said to be the largest in south-east Asia, and one of the biggest in the world. Around 800 jobs will be created during its construction phase.
During the project’s development, Masdar has conducted several social initiatives to raise awareness of sustainability and strengthen the engagement of the local community. Talking about the partnership with Masdar, Amir Faisal, president director of PJBI, said: “We see tremendous potential for similar projects in Indonesia and we look forward to continuing our fruitful collaboration with Masdar to work on more renewable energy projects and help our nation achieve its clean energy objectives.
“This floating power project is a first for Indonesia and is also a significant step in PJBI’s renewable energy journey,” he added.
Facts about solar energy
- Solar power is the most abundant energy source on earth: There’s enough solar energy reaching the earth every hour to meet all of humanity’s power needs for a whole year.
- The cost of solar panels has fallen by 99% since 1977: The price per watt for a single solar cell in 1977 was US$77. Today that same cell costs Us$0.21 per watt US$0.39 per watt for an assembled module, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
- China is the global leader in solar energy: Whilst solar power is increasing in popularity in the US, China is currently the country with the biggest uptake. Research conducted by GTM in 2017 predicted that the US would install 12.4GW of solar power during that year. China, on the other hand, installed 24.4GW of power in the first half of 2017 alone.