UK names 'offshore wind champion' as new net zero chief

An MP who championed the UK’s offshore wind credentials has been appointed as the country’s new secretary of state for energy security and net zero. 

Claire Coutinho is the sitting MP for East Surrey and replaces Grant Shapps in the role following a miniature reshuffle of the Conservative government’s cabinet announced today (31 August). Shapps had been appointed to the role in February.

Renewable energy body RenewableUK was among those welcoming Coutinho’s appointment and noted that she had "championed offshore wind" in her maiden speech to parliament in 2020.

“I’m delighted that Claire Coutinho is taking up this crucial role, at a time when the clean energy sector is facing unprecedented global economic challenges. We need urgent intervention to re-establish the UK as the best destination for international investment in renewables, as our competitors are upping the ante and trying to lure developers and manufacturers elsewhere,” said RenewableUK CEO Dan McGrail.

Jess Ralston, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit think tank added that Coutinho will have a "pretty full" in-tray.

She added that the upcoming announcement on the UK's most recent contracts for difference tender will likely "not deliver much" and that the government is "yet to make real progress" on ending the UK's de-facto onshore wind ban.