UK’s offshore wind pipeline close to 100GW mark, RenewableUK confirms
RenewableUK has confirmed that the UK’s pipeline of offshore wind projects now totals 99.8GW. But it has warned that the UK’s share in the global pipeline is shrinking, as other markets like Brazil and Australia begin to rapidly expand.
The influential trade body has this week posted a 14GW year-on-year increase in the UK’s offshore wind pipeline, bringing the total to 99.8GW.
Some 13.7GW of projects are fully operational and a further 13.6GW are either under construction or extremely likely to commence construction in the near future. A further 1.075GW of projects are in partial operations.
This does mean that the majority of the pipeline is accounted for by projects in the early stages of planning and development.
The UK Government is notably aiming for the nation to host 50GW of offshore wind by 2030. It increased the target from 40GW through the British Energy Security Strategy last April, confirming plans for offshore wind and nuclear to do most of the lifting in the energy transition.
As such, the fact that the pipeline includes almost twice as much capacity as this target is welcome news.
But RenewableUK is also warning that the UK’s historic and present position as a global offshore wind leader is not guaranteed, as other markets expand rapidly.
The UK currently has the second-biggest operational offshore wind capacity and the second-largest offshore wind pipeline. Only China comes in ahead.
But with the global offshore wind pipeline now standing at 1,174GW – up from 666GW 12 months ago – the UK’s share is a record low of 8.5%. RenewableUK has never tracked a share of less than 10% for the UK. Rapidly growing markets elsewhere include Brazil, South Korea, Australia and the US.
“There’s now fierce global competition for investment in not only wind farms, but also manufacturing facilities and supply chains,” said RenewableUK’s chief executive Dan McGrail.
“These figures underline the need for bold action to attract the billions in private investment we need, otherwise the UK risks being left behind in the years ahead, with money and jobs going to more attractive global markets”.
RenewableUK has been campaigning for the UK Government to consider lifting a temporary windfall tax of 45% – applied to all electricity generators – for the renewables sector. The levy was implemented in recognition of the fact that, because the UK’s wholesale electricity prices are linked to gas prices, even renewables developers have been recording higher profits amid the gas price crisis. Industry bodies have argued that it deters investors.
“The US and EU are offering massive financial incentives for renewable energy, while in the UK the Government has been raising taxes on clean energy,” McGrail said, alluding to the US’s Inflation Reduction Act and the EU’s Green Deal Industrial Plan.
RenewableUK is also campaigning at present for planning reforms to speed up the development process for generation projects.
Spotlight on energy storage
While RenewableUK has led with the offshore wind story when promoting its latest data, called the EnergyPulse, there is also a wealth of information on other forms of clean energy generation – and on energy storage.
The data on energy storage tells the story of a sector primed for exponential growth. It confirms that 2.4GW of projects are operational at present, with a further 2.5GW being built now.
Also confirmed is an additional pipeline of almost 47GW. There are 15.05GW of projects in pre-planning, a further 16.67GW with a planning application submitted, and 15.2GW of additional capacity at earlier stages.
RenewableUK has described the recent growth of the UK’s energy storage pipeline as “staggering” and emphasised how this growth will be essential to helping grid operators balance electricity supply and demand as more renewable generation comes online and as sectors like transport and heating begin to be electrified at scale. According to the trade body, the UK needs to host 30GW of flexible energy capacity by the end of the decade.
The publication of the EnergyPulse data comes less than a week after Zenobe connected its 100MW battery in Capenhurst, Cheshire, to the grid. It claims it is the largest operational battery in Europe currently connected to the transmission network.