UK Offshore Generation Capacity Set To Double

UK Offshore Generation Capacity Set To Double

A new Government initiative launched last week is set to double the UK’s offshore capacity over the next ten years. If this does come to pass, then between 20% and 30% of the UK’s electricity will come from offshore wind generation. This is partly due to vastly reduced development costs making offshore wind an increasingly affordable source of clean energy.

In addition, the Government has set up auctions in which developers bid for Government financial support which aids in reducing costs passing savings to consumers. Claire Perry, the Climate and Energy Secretary confirmed that the auctions would be held every two years and would give the industry the stability required to continue to invest in the infrastructure.

RenewableUK’s chief executive, Hugh McNeal, said: “This 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 30GW by 2030.

“We can look forward to a pipeline of new offshore wind projects that will support tens of thousands of jobs across the UK.”

The auctions confirm the amount of support each individual project will require meaning that the cost of supporting them has halved over the past five years and has been deemed such a success that similar systems have been adopted worldwide by other governments.

Environmental groups have cautiously welcomed the new initiative but with the continued falling cost of both offshore and onshore wind generation questioned why the government was still committed to spending vast amounts of funds on nuclear generation.

Kate Blagojevic from Greenpeace said: “Onshore wind is also getting cheaper all the time, and is now the UK’s cheapest electricity source.

“Solar has been dropping for so long that it has actually reduced in cost by an astonishing 99% since the technology was commercialised.

“This makes the government’s huge financial support for nuclear, the one low carbon source which keeps going up and up in price, all the more confusing and irrational.”

The UK government confirmed that a wide range of energy generation sources are required for a stable energy mix.

ILI Group have long advocated that wind and solar can in the long term provide enough electricity to ensure demand is met and carbon emissions are reduced. However, this will not be possible without industrial scale storage and a renewed development programme ensuring that new projects are brought to fruition.

At ILI Energy we agree that a diverse energy mix is required however with world heating up and carbon emissions reductions legally required our focus should be on renewables with wind – both onshore and offshore – and solar generating the most.

As mentioned above, costs are reducing. In addition, the technology is now more efficient meaning more energy can be generated from each installation. There does however remain the issue of intermittency and although the grid can cope with this up to a certain point should we increase our renewable production levels substantially industrial scale storage will be required.

This is where large scale storage solutions such as pump storage hydro can make a real difference to our carbon emissions. Wind turbines can generate at any time, whether the energy is required or not and if not, it can be stored for use at times of peak demand. This in turn will lead to less reliance on the more traditional – but high carbon producing – short term demand solutions such as gas.

It’s been clear for some time now that storage solutions are necessary for us to take full advantage of our renewable resources and with the right support it can be the backbone of our low carbon energy generation mix.

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