United Kingdom

United Kingdom

UK MPs issue warning on offshore wind 'gamble'

UK: The House of Commons Committee on Climate Change has described the UK’s plans to develop 18GW of offshore wind by 2020 as “a big gamble”.

The MPs were reporting on the possibility of developing a ‘European supergrid’ to facilitate offshore development in the North Sea.

The committee said that although encouraging and making use of the UK’s huge offshore wind generation (map) made sense, the report questioned its cost and reliability. 

It said: "The Government is banking on reductions in the cost of offshore wind and improvements in efficiency to make the numbers add up." It added that a transmission system needs to be developed to make the "numbers add up".

The report had a number of concerns about the viability and cost of building a "supergrid" and did not think it would be built before 2020.

However, it criticised the way offshore projects are currently connected to the grid through point-to-point connections, decribing it as "costly and ineffective".

The dilemma for the UK government is whether to spend money building new offshore transmission systems, with the possibility they could lie idle if development does not take off.

It added: "The Government must give certainty to investors about the long-term support on offer for offshore wind. It must also consider how to encourage early investment in offshore grid infrastructure, either through regulation or improving access to public finance for pioneer projects."

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