Offshore wind energy to deliver a third of UK electricity by 2030
Offshore wind will account for more than 30 per cent of British electricity supply by 2030, according to energy minister Claire Perry as she unveiled a new deal with the industry.
The announcement doubles down on last year’s pledge that the UK Government would support the offshore wind sector to the tune of up to £557m in subsidies over the course of several auctions.
The cost of offshore energy per megawatt has been dropping in the last few years, reaching record lows.
The Government has been cutting subsidies for the sector under its “contracts for difference” arrangement and will guarantee a price of just £57.50 per megawatt hour (MWh) for projects built in 2022-23 - down from £74.75 per MWh for projects delivered in 2021-22.
In comparison, upcoming nuclear power station Hinkley Point C has been guaranteed £92.50 per MWh.
Offshore wind currently provides around 7 per cent of British power, but that could increase to more than 30 per cent by the end of the next decade, providing 27,000 jobs in the sector.
It would mean that for the first time in UK history more electricity is generated by renewables than fossil fuels, with a predicted 70 per cent of power coming from low-carbon sources by 2030, officials said.
The Government’s agreement also includes a new £250m “Offshore Wind Growth Partnership” to boost competitiveness for the UK’s offshore energy companies based in areas such as the North East, East Anglia, Humber and the Solent.
The partnership is designed to ensure these companies are “leaders internationally in the next generation of offshore wind” through innovations in areas such as robotics, advanced manufacturing, new materials, floating wind and larger turbines.
Alongside the deal, the Government will provide more than £4m for British businesses to share expertise globally and open new markets through a programme to help countries such as Indonesia and Pakistan avoid coal power and develop their own offshore wind projects.
The Crown Estate will also be releasing new seabed land from 2019 onwards for future offshore wind projects.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “This new sector deal will drive a surge in the clean, green offshore wind revolution that is powering homes and businesses across the UK, bringing investment into coastal communities and ensuring we maintain our position as global leaders in this growing sector.
“By 2030, a third of our electricity will come from offshore wind, generating thousands of high-quality jobs across the UK, a strong UK supply chain and a five-fold increase in exports.”
Energy UK’s chief executive, Lawrence Slade, said: “Today’s sector deal, and continued investment from industry, will create a global offshore wind market set to be worth £30 billion a year by 2030 and further cement the UK’s position as a world-leader in offshore wind.
“The offshore wind industry has been a great success story for the UK, bringing thousands of skilled jobs and billions in investment, while delivering clean energy at an ever-falling cost to customers.”
Responding to the announcement, Greenpeace said that renewables needed to be scaled up even more. John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “The Government’s plans for a fleet of new nuclear reactors has collapsed. This leaves Britain with a big energy gap in the future. It means the Government’s latest offshore wind target of 30 gigawatts by 2030 is woefully inadequate.
“Renewable power now presents the best opportunity for cheaper, cleaner and faster decarbonisation.
“Wind and solar must be tripled between now and 2030, with offshore wind the future backbone of the UK’s energy system.”
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