The Committee for Climate Change (CCC) welcomed recent UK policy changes - including the launch of a consultation to readmit onshore wind to its support scheme - but warned that more needs to be done to combat climate change.
The UK government earlier this year launched a consultation on readmitting onshore wind to its contract for difference (CfD) support scheme, but is yet to confirm a timetable for it re-entering auctions, the size of the budget, the terms of competition with other renewable sources, or whether further auctions are planned.
Greater clarity could support delivery and development of supply chains for onshore wind, the CCC suggested in its new annual report assessing the UK’s progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The watchdog also suggested that the UK’s devolved parliaments - in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - should also focus on developing permitting frameworks aligned with emissions reduction targets.
This could include a more favourable permitting regime for onshore wind, particularly in terms of tip height guidelines — currently unofficially set at only 125 metres — which would enable developers to deploy modern and cost-efficient technology.
The CCC acknowledged that the coronavirus crisis has "changed all of our lives" in its latest report, but added that “the fundamental requirements to achieve net zero are largely unchanged".
It urged the UK government to use pandemic recovery efforts as an opportunity to accelerate the transition to a cleaner, net-zero emissions economy.
Post-pandemic investments in offshore wind - including floating offshore wind - could help the UK towards its goal of reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, the CCC suggested.
Meanwhile, investments in reskilling and retraining programmes could help fill jobs needed for a green transition.
The government should also develop a strategy to coordinate interconnectors and offshore networks for wind farms and their connections to the onshore network as the UK approaches its ambition to install 40GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.
It should also consult on the future of the electricity market design as renewables make up an increasing share of generation, including consideration of technology neutrality, subsidy-free renewables, mechanisms for repowering, the CCC suggested.
Head of policy and regulation at industry body RenewableUK, Rebecca Williams welcomed the report, and added: “The CCC is clear about the huge opportunities right across the renewable energy sector and if we can invest early in emerging technologies like floating offshore wind and renewable hydrogen, the UK can build world-leading industries.
“A green economic recovery after the pandemic can create tens of thousands of jobs and attract billions in investment.”