UK government affirms 40 GW offshore wind energy commitment

Her Majesty the Queen presented her speech to both houses of parliament, outlining the UK government’s proposed polices and legislative plans and marking the opening of the new parliamentary year. It was revealed that the UK’s target for installed offshore wind energy has been raised to 40 GW by 2030, and that the UK government will support the development of floating wind turbines.

The announcement follows a pledge by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his pre-election campaign to boost offshore wind power ambitions from the previously set target of 30 GW by 2030 in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

Through the speech presented by the Queen, the UK government highlighted the importance of offshore wind power to growing the economy whilst reducing emissions. It also highlighted that the UK currently represents 34 per cent of globally installed offshore wind capacity.

The UK has nearly 10 GW installed and over 4 GW in pre-construction or under construction. In the last twelve months, a number of developments have seen the cost of offshore wind fall and government support behind the technology increase as its looks to cut carbon emissions.

In September, the cost of offshore wind dropped around 30%, following the result of the UK government’s latest Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction, which provides subsidy support for major renewable energy infrastructure projects. Projects are now being delivered for as low as £39.65/MWh. Successful projects included the Doggerbank Creyke Beck A, Doggerbank Creyke Beck B, Doggerbank Teeside A, Forthwind, Seagreen Phase 1 and Sofia offshore wind farms. The cumulative capacity of these awarded projects exceeds 5.4 GW.

Furthermore, the Crown Estate (TCE) announced plans in September to open up the potential for at least 7 GW of new seabed rights for offshore wind development in waters around England and Wales. TCE claims that Round 4 has the potential to meet the electricity needs of over six million homes. Round 4 was revealed following seven extension projects with a combined capacity of 2.85 GW progressing to the award of rights stage.

This follows the announcement of the offshore wind power sector deal in March 2019, to deliver increased offshore wind capacity, boost the UK economy and continue to reduce costs. As part of the deal, the government stated that it will hold another Contracts for Difference allocation round in 2021, with further auctions approximately every two years. Depending on the price achieved, these auctions will deliver between 1 and 2 GW of offshore wind farm each year in the 2020s.