CfD announcement in weeks, says Rudd

UK: The new UK energy minister Amber Rudd has promised an announcement on the next contracts for difference (CfD) auction in the "next few weeks".

Energy minister Amber Rudd speaks to delegates at the Global Offshore Conference

Rudd was speaking at the RenewableUK Global Offshore 2015 conference in London (24-25 June).

The energy minister said she "appreciated the urgency" to provide clarity to the industry about the upcoming subsidy support auctions. But Rudd warned that government help could "not last forever".

She told delegates that it was "appropriate" to end support for onshore wind, to allow further investment in the offshore sector. Last week, Rudd announced the renewables obligation support scheme for onshore wind would finish a year earlier than expected.

Rudd also reaffirmed targets of offshore wind reaching £100/MWh (€140) in the near future and the doubling of capacity over the next five years, but said the industry needs to keep up the pace of deployment and development.

She added the UK had a strong pipeline for possible future projects and offshore wind was a "21st-century industrial success story".

Rudd put emphasis on developing the UK supply chain and increasing offshore wind exports from the UK to the rest of the world. She said the Chinese market had huge potential.

Finally, addressing the UN climate change discussions to take place in Paris at the end of 2015, Rudd said the success of the UK offshore sector was "a feather in her cap" to take to the talks.

Also speaking at the opening session of the conference was ScottishPower Renewables CEO Keith Anderson. He told delegates certainty from the government was unrealistic but called on Rudd to provide clarity in the future of the sector.

He said the offshore wind sector in the UK was "colossal" and that renewables were the "here and now".

RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery gave a direct message to Rudd to provide confidence in the sector. 

On whether the offshore industry could take anything positive from Rudd's speech, Siemens wind power CEO Michael Hannibal was pleased that she seemed proud of what has been achieved so far. But the industry must wait for the government's CfD announcement, and "let's cross our fingers", he added.