United Kingdom

United Kingdom

UK 40GW offshore wind target 'needs £50 billion' in investment

UK Prime Minister announces support for the country's offshore wind industry at the Conservative Party's virtual conference

The UK currently has 11.8GW of operating offshore wind capacity, according to Windpower Intelligence (pic credit: E.on)
The UK currently has 11.8GW of operating offshore wind capacity, according to Windpower Intelligence (pic credit: E.on)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson today unveiled the UK’s first target for floating offshore wind capacity – 1GW by 2030, nearly 15 times the current operational capacity worldwide.

He also set a target to support up to double the capacity of renewable energy in the country’s next contract for difference (CfD) auction, which is due to open in late 2021.

Johnson pledge £160 million (€176 million) to upgrade ports and factories for building offshore wind turbines and infrastructure, according to reports.

He claimed that within a decade every home in the UK will be powered by electricity from offshore wind farms, while the investment will create 2,000 construction jobs and support 60,000 more.

"Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle — the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands," he said.

The UK government last year pledged to invest in supply chain development and energy infrastructure as part of a "sector deal" with the UK offshore wind power industry.

This was intended to help reach a target of 30GW offshore wind capacity by 2030, although this target was later raised to 40GW in the Conservative Party's manifesto for the December 2019 general election.

Industry groups welcomedthe announcement, with the Offshore Wind Industry Council claiming the investment could help the UK “build a world-leading, competitive supply chain”, and RenewableUK adding that support for new floating offshore wind projects can help the UK “stay at the forefront of innovation in renewables”.

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson says:“Fantastic ambition from the UK on offshore wind. They’ll have 40GW out of Europe’s total 110GW offshore wind by 2030.

"And their supporting policies are a model too: investing recovery funds in port infrastructure, supporting the supply chain and running “CfD” auctions that minimise capital costs and give consumers best bang for their buck.”

However, analysts at Aurora Energy Research argued that the 40GW offshore wind target will require nearly £50 billion in investment – a sum significantly greater than the £160 million to be pledged today.

The UK government is due to unveil a ten-point plan for a "green industrial revolution" later this year, it added. Meanwhile, energy minister Alok Sharma has reportedly confirmed a long-delayed white paper on energy – that would set the course for onshore wind, solar, hydrogen and carbon capture – is due this autumn.

More to follow.

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