Energy Minister tells offshore wind sector to seize the industrial benefits of floating wind
07 October 2020
Posted by: Rob Norris
The Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, has said floating wind will play a major role in the UK's future energy mix. He described it as "a hugely exciting opportunity and a dynamic area of growth which sits squarely and centrally in the Government's goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050".
Speaking at an online conference and exhibition, Floating Offshore Wind 2020, organised by RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables, which opened today, the Minister emphasised that early deployment will create long term economic growth and industrial benefits, ensuring that supply chain benefits are captured in the UK. He added that there is no reason why the UK cannot seize the opportunity of world leadership in this technology.
Meanwhile RenewableUK has responded to the Government’s call for evidence on the potential of marine energy projects by recommending a series of measures to ensure that the UK capitalises on its global lead in floating offshore wind - a technology which the Prime Minister also highlighted in his landmark speech on Tuesday.
The UK already has the world’s largest floating wind farms with 30 megawatts (MW) of operational capacity in Scotland and a further 150MW in the pipeline in Scotland and Wales. The industry believes 1 gigawatt (GW) by 2030 is achievable, but we will work to go further and aim to double this to 2GW by that date. We are confident that we can install at least 20GW by 2050.
In its consultation response to the Department for Business, Industry and Industrial Strategy, the trade association notes that the floating wind sector could support at least 17,000 jobs by 2050 and generate £33.6bn of economic activity (GVA) – particularly in Scotland, Wales and the south west of England, along with a supply chain throughout the country. As the industry is adapting technology from North Sea oil and gas rigs, former oil and gas sector workers are among those who stand to benefit from the enormous job opportunities on offer.
In the document, RenewableUK predicts that floating wind will repeat the success of fixed-foundation offshore wind in driving down costs dramatically by scaling up fast. The measures recommended by RenewableUK to achieve this include removing capacity caps in future CfD auctions to maximise investment and job creation. Minsters are being urged to provide more clarity over the frequency, timing and parameters of future auctions to stimulate confidence among investors. More detail is needed on how the CfD budget will be allocated within and between funding pots. Greater flexibility on milestone delivery dates within the CfD process will help floating wind to reach full commercialisation more rapidly.
Another key recommendation is for Government to enable the development of new infrastructure at ports around the country, so that they can cope with the massive scale of floating turbines and the huge platforms that some models stand on, as well as the cables that tether them to the sea bed. The Prime Minister has already gone some way towards this by announcing £160m to develop port infrastructure in yesterday’s key speech.
We are also urging Ministers to provide grants for research and development. Floating foundations, anchors, mooring systems, and cables are not yet standardised - and standardisation is essential so that mass production can get underway, bringing rapid cost reductions and maximising the growth of the supply chain in the UK.
RenewableUK’s Head of Policy and Regulation Rebecca Williams said: “The Prime Minister’s commitment to floating wind shone through in his landmark speech yesterday – he clearly sees it as playing a key role in the UK’s long term green economic recovery - and today the Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng urged the industry to seize the opportunity that floating wind offers to deliver massive economic and industrial benefits to this country.
“Our world-leading floating wind sector is on the brink of commercialisation, which will unlock our potential to create thousands of jobs and attract billions in new investment – especially to parts of the country which need levelling up most. So as we build the powerhouses of the future and a UK-wide supply chain, we need the Government to put the right policy framework into place to ensure we can capitalise on our global advantage.
“Floating wind is vital to get us to net zero emissions by 2050 and to enable us to deliver cheap power to consumers by generating massive amounts of clean power further out to sea in deeper waters where wind speeds are even higher.
“When the Government publishes its long-awaited White Paper on energy policy, expected before the end of the year, we’re hoping to see further recognition of the benefits this innovative technology offers as an important technology in the UK’s green economic future”.
The online conference and exhibition Floating Offshore Wind 2020 organised by RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables is taking place on Wednesday and Thursday this week (7th-8th October). It brings together the leading developers and manufacturers in the sector to discuss the policies needed to secure rapid growth, as well as project leasing and consenting, cost reduction and the expansion of the UK’s floating wind supply chain.
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- The vast majority of offshore wind in the UK has been installed using foundations fixed directly to the seabed, which are easily installed in shallower waters. In deeper waters, however, this is not an effective solution so the industry is adapting technology from North Sea oil and gas rigs, where floating platforms are tethered to the seabed. The world’s first floating offshore wind farm, the 30MW Hywind project, was opened by Equinor and Masdar off the coast of Peterhead in late 2017. Since then, the first turbine has been installed at the Kincardine floating wind farm off the coast of Aberdeenshire, which will have a capacity of 50MW when fully constructed.
- Details of our Floating Offshore Wind conference and exhibition are available here.
RenewableUK’s full events programme is available here.
- RenewableUK’s members are building our future energy system, powered by clean electricity. We bring them together to deliver that future faster; a future which is better for industry, billpayers, and the environment. We support over 400 member companies to ensure increasing amounts of renewable electricity are deployed across the UK and to access export markets all over the world. Our members are business leaders, technology innovators, and expert thinkers from right across industry.