United Kingdom

United Kingdom

UK could miss 2020 offshore target

UK: The UK is in danger of missing its reduced 2020 offshore wind target as it fails to draw in the level of investment needed, claims a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Kentish Flats offshore wind farm
Kentish Flats offshore wind farm

The research claims the government is struggling to secure the £20 billion (EUR 24 billion) needed to install the 10GW of offshore wind capacity it intends to have operating by 2020.

This figure is a downgrade from the 18GW planned in the government's 2011 Renewable Energy Roadmap.

The block to investment lies in the details of the planned electricity market reform, which will see the introduction of a strike price for renewable energy under a contract for difference (CfD) model.

While the research shows offshore projects offering slightly better returns under the new system than the current renewables obligation regime, there are increased risks for investors.

The analysis shows equity returns for investors will be between 8% and 12% for projects commissioned between 2014 and 2018.

However, it also lays out a number of risks that will be faced at all project stages that could change the flow of payments to the operator.

Development and construction risk under the CfD is mainly related to the uncertainty over budget availability for offshore wind projects under the levy control framework, the research shows.

Further risk during this phase comes from potential construction delays or a downsizing of total project capacity.

Key risks in the operational phase are price and liquidity connected to power purchase agreements, the danger that electricity prices fall below the CfD reference price, actual electricity output not matching forecast output, and the risk of further changes in regulations.

Sophia von Waldow, offshore wind analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: "We are not convinced that [the government] has yet done enough to minimise the complex web of risks that these projects, often in deep water and far from shore, will face.

"If so, the UK may fall short of that 10GW figure for offshore wind capacity by 2020."

Earlier in December, the government announced that it would improve the strike price paid for offshore wind, at the expense of onshore wind and solar.

The strike price was left unchanged from earlier drafts, apart from a small increase — from £135 to £140 per megawatt hour — in the financial year 2018-19. The price for projects commissioned in 2014-15 will be £155/MWh.

There is 4.5GW of offshore capacity currently installed or under construction in UK waters.

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