United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Offshore wind key to hit emissions target

UK: The UK renewables sector believes offshore wind will play a crucial role in meeting a new target to reduce carbon emissions by 2025 by 50% based on 1990 levels.

The target, which is the government's fourth "carbon budget" enshrined under the 2008 Climate Change Act, was announced by the government last month.

Industry body RenewableUK maintains that wind developers alone have applied to build in excess of current government targets for all renewable energy.

Precedents in Europe show that it is possible to roll out large capacity in a short space of time - for example Germany installed 25GW between 1997 and 2008.

The centre-right UK coalition government has been under pressure to prove to environmental groups and low-carbon industry a commitment to its pledge to be the "greenest government ever". The target was announced within a week of Vestas signing an option agreement to build a factory for its V164 7MW turbine on the Isle of Sheppey in southern England.

The agreement covers 70 hectares of land at the port of Sheerness. However, Vestas said the project is subject to it receiving enough orders for the V164 as part of the UK's third round of offshore tenders. It has stipulated a number of other requirements, including public investment.

However, although the government has said it will aim to reduce emissions domestically, it also intends to keep open the option of carbon trading to retain flexibility and minimise costs in the medium to long term.

The target was recommended by government advisory body the Committee on Climate Change. It also recommended that the government moderate its offshore wind energy plans in favour of more nuclear due to the high cost.

Although the committee noted that significant cost reductions in renewable technologies are expected over the next two decades, a spokesman for RenewableUK says such mixed signals on wind are unhelpful.

The UK is planning to bring 33GW online from offshore wind projects.

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