UK government committed to 16GW by 2020

UK: Secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey struck a defiant note at the RenewableUK conference, while offering little more to bolster waning confidence in the country's offshore sector.

Speaking at the event in Birmingham, Davey said the government is committed to reaching the 16GW upper range of its 2020 wind energy targets.

"I know that some have concerns that we are only committed to the low end of that range, so let me tell you clearly, that is not so. Far from it. I am confident that we can deliver towards the top end of that target," he said.

"And we are absolutely determined to hold on to the UK's leading position in offshore wind. and we’ve set out the framework to achieve that. Contracts are for the long term, prices are visible," he added.

Davey said his department is aiming to have 39GW of capacity installed by 2030, but failed to be drawn on whether the government would push for a concrete target for renewables beyond the 2020 commitment.

The secretary of state sought to reassure the industry over recent comments by his coalition partners in the Conservative Party, which announced a review of green tariffs that are added to consumers’ bills.

He said that will not interfere with plans in the Electricity Market Reform bill to introduce the Contracts for Difference scheme or the level of the strike price.

When challenged on how the government is going to deal with the integration of much higher levels of renewable energy on the grid, he said: "Energy storage is very much part of the government's thinking. We are looking to incentivise storage through auctions."

Davey went on to announce £2.5 million of funding for four offshore wind projects under the offshore wind component technologies scheme to develop technologies that cut the cost of offshore wind energy.

Ricardo UK was awarded £634,980 to develop its offshore drivetrain innovations, which are expected to increase the reliability and lifetime of drivetrains for large offshore wind systems.

Nottingham-based TetraFloat was given £134,000 to improve a floating platform design, while Blade Dynamics was handed £842,630 to design, evaluate, build and test an innovative composite wind turbine hub.

Finally, SSE Renewables received a grant of £1 million for its national offshore wind turbine test facility project, which will test foundations, logistics, and grid integration for Siemens 6MW pre-production turbine.

Separately, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult quango and the Crown Estate announced they will work together on programmes aimed at increasing the momentum of driving down the cost of offshore wind.

The three-year memorandum of understanding signed by the bodies encourages the identification of cost-cutting technologies.

There will also be the creation of task forces to gather data on performance and reliability of offshore projects, as well as best practice for offshore transmission links.