RenewableUK – Response to CCC report: no alternative to offshore wind energy

In the wake of today’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report, RenewableUK warned against reducing the nation’s 2020 target for offshore wind power. The report recommends that "if a set of alternative options can be found to meet the EU renewable energy target, then offshore wind energy ambition in 2020 could be moderated." RenewableUK maintains that offshore wind power is the technology most likely to deliver in the time frame and on the scale required, while providing a high degree of cost certainty.

Maria McCaffery, RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, said: "The report is welcome in as much as it recommends increasing the share of renewable energy to 40% by 2030. However, we are not going to get there if we do not stand four-square behind offshore wind farm in the run up to 2020. An unambitious target could scare off investors just when they have pledged so much commitment in establishing UK factories. This in turn could stymie delivery of targets and prevent the creation of up to 50,000 jobs in offshore wind turbines over the next decade."

While the industry has been reassured by the CCC’s confidence that 2020 targets are achievable, it has called for a realistic assessment of costs and constraints, and a level playing field for all forms of technologies. It has also reminded that a host of studies has predicted a fall in the cost of delivery for offshore wind, while some of the current costs of delivering nuclear remain optimistic.

"The current 2020 target for offshore wind energy is already below what the industry can deliver. Back-tracking on the target even further makes no sense: the UK’s world leading offshore sector needs confidence, not doubt and prevarication. We are looking forward to the Government’s response to this report in the delivery roadmap next month, which we anticipate to be much more ambitious", concluded McCaffery.

RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with 654 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK. Wind has been the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source for the last seven years, and this trend is expected to continue with falling costs of wind energy and the urgent international need to tackle CO2 emissions to prevent climate change.

The Carbon Trust, October 2008: ‘The investment required to deliver 29GW of offshore wind power can be reduced by 40% – from £75bn to £45bn. The UK Government can stimulate these savings by making the best sites available and catalysing technology down the cost curve.’

Charting the Right Course, Renewable UK, 2009: ‘Projections show that good progress on this front will see capital costs reduced by 15 – 20% in five years’ time and on a strongly-reducing trajectory.’ UKERC, September 2010: ‘The report cautions that costs are likely to come down slowly at first, but that material reductions are available if the right incentives are in place.’

Energy Technologies Institute, April 2011: ‘The project found that costs could be around 30% less than current state of the art offshore wind turbines with the potential for additional savings as the technology is developed further.’