EWEA pressures UK for auction clarity

UK: EWEA has called on the UK government to provide clarity ahead of the proposed 2016 Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction, as it begins to put pressure on Europe's third largest wind market.

UK energy minister Amber Rudd

EWEA issued a statement following energy minister Amber Rudd's appearance in the House of Commons today to face MPs questioning.

Rudd gave no further detail on the proposed future CfDs during the session. However, she repeated the Government's ambition to support UK renewable energies but at no cost to the consumer.

In a rare response to the questioning, EWEA said: "The UK government continuously refers to keeping consumer bills down but scaling back support for onshore wind — the cheapest form of new power generation available to us — does not make economic sense, particularly when the UK is planning to pursue more costly and polluting technologies."

The statement continued: "We need government to shed light on the future of the wind industry over the long term. The government can show its commitment to wind power by clarifying as soon as possible the position of onshore wind in the CfD regime and the CfD arrangements for offshore wind in 2016.

"If the UK wants to maintain its mantle as one of Europe's leading players in renewables and wind energy, policymakers must provide investors with stability and a lasting vision for the sector."

In November, Rudd announced plans for three futher CfD auctions to be held before 2020 with the first to be in 2016. The auctions would be held if the offshore industry could demonstrate cost reductions. However, there is very little detail on the auctions, and whether or not onshore wind would be allowed to compete.

"It is important that the government makes this clear as soon as possible, particularly with regard to onshore. Following the cutbacks last year, we would like to see the government include onshore in the CfD," EWEA's spokesperson told Windpower Monthly.

In June, the government said the previous support system – Renewables Obligation (RO) – would be phased out a year earlier than expected.

"The UK is very important for both onshore and offshore to the European wind industry as the EU's third largest installer of capacity and the world's largest installer of offshore wind. It is in the interests of the government, industry and consumers to ensure that the deployment of wind power is well supported in the UK to attract investment and keep electricity prices down.

"Furthermore, the UK is some way from meeting its 2020 targets and needs to increase its share of renewables deployment over the next five years to make up the ground. This means fostering investment in wind energy – both onshore and offshore - and avoiding harsh retroactive or abrupt changes to support schemes for a technology that served 11% of the UK's electricity demand in 2015," EWEA said.

first round of auctions for CfDs were awarded in February 2015. Two offshore projects won support - ScottishPower Renewables' 714MW East Anglia One and Mainstream Renewable Power's 448MW Neart Na Gaiothe. The average price of the agreed strike price was £117.14/MWh (€167/MWh).