Offshore wind power has been regarded as one of the few renewable generation technologies that have excellent market prospects because it produces much more electricity than other technologies do, and its deployment is not restricted by land availability. The UK is among the several European countries that have invested heavily in the development of offshore wind power and has placed high hopes on this generation technology to help reach its renewable energy goal. Currently, the UK government has maintained the target of raising the share of offshore wind in the country’s energy mix to 30% by 2030.
The UK is one of the principal centers of the development of offshore wind power in the world. The statistics from the UK government show that offshore wind accounted for 6.2% of the total electricity generated in the country in 2017. This figure is projected to rise to around 10% in 2020. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) under the UK government has recently struck a major deal with significant players of the offshore wind sector. In exchange for state subsidies, the industry will invest £250 million over the next 11 years to increase domestic content in offshore wind projects and improve the competitiveness of the domestic supply chain with respect to global exports. BEIS expects that the deal will increase the number of jobs in the UK offshore wind sector to 27,000 by 2030 and strengthen the country’s leading position in the global market for the technology.
Along with this deal, the UK government has also announced the goal of expanding the deployment of offshore wind power so that it will represent a third of the country’s electricity supply within the decade. If this target is met, then the share of low-carbon sources of generation in the country’s energy mix will is anticipated to reach 70% in 2030 – surpassing that of fossil fuels for the first time.
The deal also includes the following terms and objectives:
- Raising the share of domestic content in domestic offshore wind projects to 60%
- Boosting exports of the offshore wind technology from the UK by fivefold to £2.6 billion per annum by 2030
- Gradual phase-out of subsidies for offshore wind power
- Obtaining additional seabed land from the Crown Estate and the Crown Estate of Scotland for the development of new offshore wind projects
- Providing a sum of more than £4 million to promote the UK offshore wind sector globally and to help countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan, and the Philippines to develop their own offshore wind projects through the sharing technical expertise (the cost of this initiative will be shared between the government and private enterprises)
Statistics from the UK government also reveal that the cost of new offshore wind contracts fell by more than 50% within the short period of the last two years. Factors that are driving this rapid cost decline include the maturation of the overall technical proficiency and the attainment of economies of scale for the sector. Thus, offshore wind power has evolved to the next generation and become a fairly cost-competitive form of generation technology. Claire Perry, Energy and Clean Growth Minister, said that the latest deal will not only spur the growth of the offshore wind sector in the UK but also provide clean and reliable electricity to homes and businesses across the country. Furthermore, the deal will lead to sizable investments in economic development and good jobs for the coastal communities.
To reach the ambitious target of having offshore wind represent 30% of the country’s energy mix in 2030, the UK government will hold a renewable electricity auction every two years starting from 2019. The government will also allocate £115 million to foster local R&D and innovations related to the offshore wind technology. By encouraging collaborations between the industry and the local communities, the government hopes to create more growth opportunities and new regional industry clusters.
The offshore wind sector sees steady growth in recent years
Wind power has always been the leading source of renewable generation in the UK. In 2017, wind power made up around half of the renewable electricity produced in the UK, reaching 50TWh. Land-based/onshore wind and offshore wind generation accounted for 29.1TWh and 20.9TWh, respectively, out of that 50TWh total. The latest deal indicates that the country will continue to vigorously pursuit the development of offshore wind power in the future. Indeed, many offshore wind farms, operational or under construction, are dotted along the eastern coast of the UK. Among them is Hornsea Project 1, which is currently the largest of its kind in the world. Commissioned by the UK government and owned by the Danish offshore wind developer Ørsted, Hornsea Project 1 is still under construction and will accommodate 174 turbines with a total generation capacity of 1.2GW. The installation and grid-connection of the first turbine was completed this February.
Ørsted is also moving ahead with Hornsea Project 2 and 3. The UK government already approved the plan for Hornsea Project 2 in 2016. This project will consist of 165 turbines with a total capacity of 1.4GW. Hornsea Project 3 will be much grander in scale, with a proposed total capacity of 2.4GW. The amount of electricity generated by Hornsea Project 3 will be sufficient for approximately 2 million households, or the rough equivalent of the whole Taipei City.
(This article is an English translation of news content provided by EnergyTrend’s media partner TechNews. Photo Credit: The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), formerly known as the Department of Energy and Climate Change, via Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0.)