UK and EU sign offshore renewable energy agreement

The UK Government has signed a new cooperative agreement with key European Union nations to bolster renewable deployment in the North Seas and improve the interconnectivity of windfarms.

UK and EU sign offshore renewable energy agreement

Turbine installed off the coast of Aberdeen

The UK Minister for Energy and Climate Graham Stuart signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC) forum on Sunday (18 December).

The move forms part of the UK’s commitments under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and it will see the forum look to develop renewable projects across the North Seas.

The countries involved include Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and the European Commission.

Minister of State for Energy and Climate, Graham Stuart, said: “I’m pleased to agree even greater energy cooperation with our North Seas neighbours, which will be vital in helping the UK meet it ambitious renewables target, including increasing offshore wind fivefold to 50GW by 2030.

“The development of renewables in the North Seas is critical for accelerating our clean transition and boosting energy security for the UK and our European neighbours.”

The UK currently sends and receives electricity through cables that are linked with EU states like France and the Netherlands. This latest agreement will help improve and increase interconnection, improving the reliability and access to electricity imports and exports.

Indeed, the National Grid Electricity System Operator has previously claimed that better grid integration to offshore wind farms would deliver consumer-facing savings of around £3bn.

The new agreement will also support the UK’s plans to increase offshore wind capacity fivefold to 50GW. The UK is also aiming to add more than 10GW of new interconnector capacity, rising from 8.4GW today, by 2030.

It comes as the UK looks to rebuild the attractiveness of its renewables market. The UK has fallen one place to fourth in EY’s bi-annual ranking of the attractiveness of renewable energy investment markets.

Despite strong investment in offshore wind over the past six months, Germany pipped the UK to third due to its pledge for an 80% renewable electricity mix by 2030.

The RECAI notes that the UK continues to boast the UK’s largest offshore wind pipeline and states that increasing the 2030 target for installed capacity from 40GW to 50GW through the Energy Security Strategy has increased investment. It emphasises the success of the last Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction round and notes that the UK Infrastructure Bank’s confirmation of its funding priorities, including renewables, makes the market attractive to would-be investors.

Nothing is said about concerns that the Government may yet move to make solar development on agricultural land more challenging – a leadership pledge from both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.

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