United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Offshore wind features in UK infrastructure debate

Energy bill stalls, as MPs cite evidence from E.ON and Macquarie

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 UK offshore wind featured prominently during oral evidence sessions that have led to the publication today, of a highly-critical report about the UK Government’s national infrastructure plan.

The House of Commons public accounts committee has dismissed the plan as nothing more than "a long list of projects requiring huge amounts of money, not a real plan with a strategic vision and clear priorities".

E.ON and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) both provided oral evidence during the committee’s investigation. E.ON’s testimony included mention of its Rampion offshore wind farm, planned for waters off Sussex, and its participation in London Array.

Meanwhile, a representative from MIRA was questioned by the committee about the the level of profit the company made from its involvement in the UK’s offshore transmission owner (OFTO) asset market. Earlier this year, the committee argued that existing UK policy guaranteed excess profits for companies buying offshore wind export cable infrastructure.

MPs on the committee want the government to demand more transparency from private sector businesses investing in new energy infrastructure. Such companies must demonstrate that subsidies and other forms of support they receive are reasonable, they say.

Energy bill "hiatus"

Delays in finalising the energy bill mean the UK risks losing much-needed investment in new electricity generation, suggests the committee. Appearing before it, E.ON’s director of strategy and regulation, Sara Vaughan, emphasised the importance of the energy bill entering into force by the end of this year, "so that we can get secondary legislation in place for next year".

The bill is designed to replace the UK’s existing renewable obligation certificate (ROC) scheme, with a new regime based on contracts for difference (CfDs). Potential investors in new energy generating capacity, including offshore wind, are in the midst of a "hiatus" as they wait for the bill to enter into force, said Vaughan.

This hiatus risks becoming protracted, given that the timetable outlined by Vaughan seems increasingly unrealistic. Dates have yet to be set for the bill's "report stage". This stage must be completed before the bill can move from the House of Commons to the House of Lords.

Last week, rumours were circulating that the energy bill’s report stage would not take place until after the Whitsun holiday, which ends on 11 June. A parliamentary spokesperson confirmed to Windpower Offshore that an administrative change was made to the bill towards the end of 2012. The introduction of a "carry over motion" means that the bill can make much more leisurely progress through parliament.


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