Government pledges £557m to double UK’s offshore wind over next decade
The government has announced financial support for the offshore wind sector that it hopes will lead to a doubling in the amount of capacity installed over the next decade.
The UK is currently the global leader in offshore wind with over 7GW installed and operational and an additional 7GW that is currently under construction or with contracts.
The government hopes its next funding round will deliver up to an additional 2GW of offshore wind per year in the 2020s, to bring total capacity up to 30GW by 2030.
The country’s status as an island nation coupled with numerous high-density population coastal cities makes offshore wind particularly attractive.
A new auction for companies to bid for subsidies for offshore wind farms will take place in May next year, with auctions every two years, providing up to £557m in support, the Business and Energy Department said.
The low cost of £57.50 per megawatt for projects delivered from 2022 onwards makes offshore particularly attractive, especially when compared to projects such as the upcoming Hinkley Point C power plant which has secured subsidies of £92.50/MWh.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said the £57.50 price “was unimaginable a few years ago”.
“The UK has helped to realise this extraordinary coming of age for the global sector and are poised to reap the reward in new export markets,” she added.
For the first time, onshore wind farms on remote islands such as Shetland and Orkney will also be able to compete in the auctions, ministers announced.
Industry body RenewableUK’s chief executive Hugh McNeal said: “Boosting our ambitions for offshore wind is win-win for consumers, as the industry’s success at cutting costs mean that offshore wind is now one of the cheapest options for new power in the UK.
“Today’s announcement confirming the budget and timing of new auctions, sets us on the path to deliver the tens of billions of pounds of investment that will be needed to meet our ambition of at least 30 gigawatts by 2030.
“This is good news for the domestic supply chain which can look forward to a pipeline of new offshore wind projects that will support tens of thousands of jobs across the UK.”
The support for offshore wind was also welcomed by Greenpeace, but the environmental group called on the government to support other cheap forms of renewables including onshore wind and solar power.
An offshore wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen finally came online earlier this month after weathering heavy legal opposition from Donald Trump, who tried to prevent the wind farm from being established, due to his owning a hotel and golf course on nearby coastland.