Report: UK must more than double onshore wind capacity by 2030 to meet climate targets

Pictured: Scotland's Whitelee wind farm

The call to action is detailed in a new report from the trade body today (7 May).

While praising the Government for its recent decision to adopt the Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget, which requires the UK to reduce net emissions by 78% by 2035 against a 2019 baseline, the report argues that the Budget could be breached without clearer pathways for specific forms of renewable energy generation.

The report argues that Boris Johnson’s vision for the UK to host 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 should be matched with equally ambitious targets for onshore wind, marine energy and green hydrogen.

On the former, it recommends that the UK commits to hosting at least 30GW of onshore wind by the end of the decade, up from 13.7GW in 2020. New onshore wind arrays were essentially banned in the UK under Contracts for Difference (CfD) rules that came into force in 2015, but a reform in 2020 has made it easier for developers to find a route to market. As most new onshore wind would be based in Scotland, RenewableUK recommends that any new UK-wide target includes requirements for the Scottish and Welsh administrations to develop complimentary targets.

As for renewable hydrogen, the report states that the UK “already has a head start in the global race” to scale up production and bring down costs. Beyond the initial funding provided in last year’s Ten-Point Plan, a Hydrogen Strategy is due imminently. RenewableUK sets out the case for targeting a minimum of 5GW of electrolyser capacity by 2030. Hydrogen is widely recognised as a potential low-carbon solution for hard-to-abate sectors such as heat and shipping, but most generation globally is currently fired by fossil fuels.

The report also calls on Ministers to set a 1GW target for marine energy capacity, also with a 2030 deadline. Meeting this target would require an updated Government revenue support mechanism, such as inclusion in future CfD auction rounds, and updated mechanisms for private sector finance, such as Government-supported power purchase agreements (PPAs), RenewableUK argues.

“Over-arching commitments to decarbonise by 2035 and 2050 are a great starting point, but there is so much to be gained by fleshing out comprehensive plans for renewable development which will underpin this,” RenewableUK’s head of public affairs Nathan Bennett said.

“Ministers have already told us they want to see 40GW of offshore wind built by the end of this decade – now they need to show countries around the world we’re as committed to onshore wind, floating wind, renewable hydrogen and marine energy as we’d like them to be.

“By enhancing our renewable energy targets, the UK doesn’t just show effective leadership on tackling climate change – we will also drive new investment and jobs in the renewable energy supply chain across the UK. We’re in a position to be a world leader in technologies like floating wind, green hydrogen and marine energy, grasping the export potential of each industry’s inevitable global growth”.

To Bennett’s point, RenewableUK is urging Ministers to set the new targets before COP26 commences in Glasgow this November.

Energy transition

The report comes shortly after an early draft of the EU’s upcoming renewable energy directive was leaked to media representatives.

According to the draft, the bloc will set an objective of sourcing 38-40% of its energy from renewables by 2030. This is around double the current proportion.

A revised and finalised version of the directive will be presented to members of the European Commission in July.

Sarah George

Comments (2)

  1. Keiron Shatwell says:

    No the UK needs to diversify its renewables generation capacity away from something as unpredictable and unreliable as wind.

    Not only is wind unreliable when you factor in the changes to watersheds, the devastation to highland habitats from cutting access roads and building large concrete pads and the destruction of the visible environment there is little to say positive about onshore wind.

    Unless we start to see wind turbines all around the M25.

    The UK is blessed with large tidal currents that are predictable and reliable so time to invest in this.
    There are some large rivers that have the capacity to provide a steady supply of power. In the Medieval era these rivers powered everything from grind corn to blast furnaces making steel, time to re invest in river hydro
    There are options to convert existing hydro plants in Scotland to pumped storage and to construct new hydro schemes using existing lochs and lochans. Hydro also gives a 100 year payback (Foyers on Loch Ness is now over 120 years old and still providing power to the grid).

    Eggs and baskets springs instantly to mind when I hear talk of investing all our power generation into wind. Bit like the "dash for gas" back in the 80s & 90s.

  2. Richard Phillips says:

    I presume that the frequent mention of hydrogen these days is of electrolytically generated hydrogen.
    The power source is presumably wind power. What happens in periods of calm, and they do exist for large areas and long periods, days.
    Just an idle thought
    Richard Phillips

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