Offshore wind could supply one third of UK electricity by 2030
The UK could get more than a third of its electricity demand from offshore wind by 2030 while also supporting 50,000 skilled jobs, a new Offshore Wind Vision document has found.
Launched today (17 November) as part of Offshore Wind Week, the document outlines a trajectory for offshore wind that will provide the UK with the “best opportunity for cost-effective decarbonisation”.
Benj Sykes, co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council said: “It is only 15 years since the first UK offshore wind farm - just two 2 megawatt turbines - began operating. Since then the technology has matured rapidly to the point where the UK leads the world in deployment and could readily build 30 gigawatts of capacity by 2030.”
“The industry has shown it can deliver these large energy infrastructure projects to time and budget, but continued momentum is important to build investor confidence. Costs are falling rapidly thanks to investment in new technology and increased competition.
“What we need to see is a clear pathway for offshore wind through to 2025. This will provide the UK with the best opportunity for cost effective decarbonisation and ensure that we maximise the export opportunity for the UK supply chain.”
The document states that a clear intent to operate at a build rate of 1 – 2GW (delivering at least 18GW by 2025 would allow the UK to lower the cost of offshore wind energy to a level of £80 - 90/ MWh in the next 10 years. The newest wind farms are reportedly already operating at load factors of up to 50%.
According to the document, offshore wind is already getting cheaper with the level of subsidy dropping by 38%. It is on track to be cost-competitive with other generational sources by the mid-2020s.
The UK is already considered a world leader in the wind sector with more than 3.7GW of capacity built in the last five years - enough to power 3 million households.
The rapid deployment capabilities of the UK have attracted major global investment opportunities. Since 2010, the sector has attracted more than £9.5bn. Exports from UK offshore wind companies have also grown by £1m to £90m for the last financial year.
According to a new report commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and RenewableUK, 43% of the expenditure acquired through offshore projects in the UK go to local companies. Over the past 12 months, the report estimates that £840m of investment into the UK’s offshore wind industry has remained in the country.
Benj Sykes added: “By jointly committing to reporting on UK content, the offshore wind industry is showing how seriously it takes developing a strong and competitive UK supply chain alongside delivering clean affordable power to consumers.
“We expect the amount of UK content to grow as more companies base their operations here. This includes the recent opening of a blade factory on the Isle of Wight, and Siemens’ landmark blade manufacturing and turbine assembly plant scheduled to open in Hull next year”.
This new report is the first of an industry-agreed annual report that will track the UK’s progress towards a goal of 50% local content for the offshore wind sector. The current report analysed data from 80% of the UK’s current operational offshore capacity.