UK announces industry recovery plans following COVID-19
The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has promised thousands of construction jobs to rebuild economy amid COVID-19.
On Tuesday morning, Johnson made a speech confirming the British government’s commitment to focus on the construction industry in order to help revive the nation’s economy in wake of the coronavirus pandemic which saw many construction sites grind to a halt earlier this year.
Earlier in the year, Johnson pledged to fund numerous new hospital buildings across the country, in addition to providing large-scale funding in important road and rail infrastructure.
Following on from this, Downing Street announced that the government is committed to an immediate £5bn package of capital investment in numerous infrastructure projects. These include a £1.2bn spend on the improvement of schools.
A taskforce called ‘Project Speed’ will be introduced which Johnson says will be set up to “scythe through red tape” which will get construction projects delivered faster.
It has also been hinted that procurement rules may be changed in order to speed up appointments.
He said: “With every flood-defending culvert that we dig, with every railway station, hospital or school that we build, we will, of course, be tackling the next wave of this crisis by helping to create thousands of high-paid, high-skilled jobs.
“Because we know in our hearts that the furloughing cannot go on forever, and as the economy recovers we also know that the jobs that many people had in January are also not coming back or at least not in that form; we know that is the biggest and most immediate economic challenge that we face.”
Full details on a National Infrastructure Strategy will be released this autumn.
Leading construction company, Balfour Beatty, welcomed the news with Chief Executive Leo Quinn stating: “The prime minister’s commitment to accelerate the UK’s long-term infrastructure pipeline is a critical factor for the country’s recovery. As well as stimulating regional and national economies, it will generate vast employment opportunities across the country and help provide our younger generations with employable skills. Without this, following the fallout from COVID-19, we could see widespread structural unemployment issues”.
Despite the positivity that has been echoed across the industry, the UK Green Building Council Chief Executive Julie Hirigoyen highlighted the need for green investment to meet net-zero emissions targets by 2050. She said: “The plans announced by the PM today make no reference to energy efficiency – perhaps the most urgent of all infrastructure priorities – that can create jobs right around the country, improve health and reduce costs to NHS, and increase consumer spending power by lowering energy bills.”
Sonnedix starts construction of 50MW solar plant in Spain
Sonnedix has started building a 50MW solar PV plant in Badajoz, Spain.
Sonnedix Los Frailes will be built on a 111-hectares, becoming the largest project built by the IPP in the country, where it has operated since 2010. With over 110,000 monocrystaline solar panels, the project will connect through a transmission line to the Vaguadas substation.
During construction, Sonnedix will create approximately 250 new jobs in Badajoz, in line with its ESG standards and commitment to improving the life of the local community.
Once operational, Sonnedix Los Frailes, which is being developed in collaboration with Viridi RE group, will produce approximately 102,000 MWh per year, capable of powering more than 36,500 homes with clean electricity and avoiding over 24,000 tons of CO2.
Axel Thiemann, CEO of Sonnedix, said: “We are excited to start the construction of our largest project to date in Spain, a milestone that highlights both our strong commitment to the Spanish market, and our potential to expand our platform worldwide. We are very proud of our hard-working and committed team in Spain, which has doubled in the last year, and we look forward to continue developing and acquiring solar PV projects in the country, playing an important role in the energy transition, as well as the post-pandemic economic recovery.”
Last June 2020, Sonnedix signed a 10-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Europe´s largest producer of renewable energy and leading PPA provider Statkraft for the supply of 100 GWh of energy per year, making it the IPP’s first PPA for a grid-parity project in Spain.
Sonnedix is one of the leading solar IPPs in Spain, with over 1GW of capacity, including 365MW operational, 50MW under construction, and a development pipeline of over 600MW. Currently it has almost 2GW under operation or construction across eight countries, plus more than 2GW in the pipeline.
According to SolarPower Europe, Spain is expected to have a total installed solar PV capacity of 29GW by 2024 in the medium scenario, making it the second largest solar market in Europe. Renewables produced 50.7% of Spain’s electricity in May, generating 10% more gigawatt-hours year-on-year.
The Spanish National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) targets 74% of renewable electricity generation and 39.2 GW of PV capacity by 2030.