Analysis - UK woos next generation offshore turbines with leases and incentive boosts

UK: Turbine manufacturers are being offered sites across the UK to test their latest offshore technology, with those choosing sites in Scotland also being offered increased levels of incentive payments.

Floating turbine projects will receive 3.5 ROCs in Scottish waters
As one of a series of announcements at the RenewableUK offshore wind show in Manchester in June, UK marine landlord the Crown Estate revealed it will be launching a new leasing scheme for the testing and demonstration new turbine, cable and foundation technology, including floating turbines.

At the same time the Scottish Government announced that demonstration projects using new-to market wind turbines sited in Scottish waters will receive 2.5 renewable obligation certificates (ROCs) per megawatt hour of electricity generated.

This is an increase of 0.5 on current offshore projects, including those planned for construction during the upcoming Round 3 phase of offshore build. Projects using floating turbines will receive 3.5 ROCs.

These boosts to experimental turbine technology came as UK energy minister Michael Fallon used his speech at the conference to promise to boost investment in the country's offshore supply chain.

Fallon announced the creation of the Offshore Wind Investment Organisation (OWIO), a joint venture between the industry and government charged with increasing investment and employment in the UK industry supply chain. He said it would be led by a "senior industry figure".

Following Fallon's speech, Scottish energy minster Fergus Ewing said that many jobs in the UK supply chain would be highly dependent on the success of Scottish offshore wind and warned against any move to dismantle the current integrated UK electricity market should Scotland become independent.

Scotland is holding a referendum on independence in autumn 2014 and in March UK energy secretary Ed Davey warned that if the country did gain independence England and Wales could choose to go elsewhere for its electricity import needs, such as via interconnectors with Ireland and Norway.

Ewing said these threats to dismantle the UK's integrated electricity market posed a huge risk for English businesses and security of supply.

"We are here in Manchester and there are a great many companies in England that want to do business in Scotland in these projects off our shores," said Ewing, speaking exclusively to Windpower TV at the conference.

"Frankly without Scotland's energy there is [also] a real danger, as Ofgem highlighted last October, that the lights will go out. Consumers across the UK require the electricity from Scottish projects and no one serious would suggest that dismantling the current integrated electricity market makes any sense."