UK: Offshore Wind Big in CCC’s Progress Report to Parliament

The UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended the UK government to deliver plans to decarbonise the power system to reach an emissions intensity of 50 gCO₂/kWh by 2030, including at least 40 GW of offshore wind, with a clear timetable of regular auctions.

In its Reducing UK emissions: 2020 Progress Report to Parliament report, issued on 25 June, the CCC also calls for the development of a strategy to coordinate interconnectors and offshore networks for offshore wind farms and their connections to the onshore network. To realise this, the Committee recommends bringing forward any legislation necessary to enable the coordination.

“We welcome the CCC’s support for the UK delivering at least 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 coupled with driving the necessary decarbonisation of transport and heating and the importance to the industry of a clear timetable for future auctions”, said Duncan Clark, Head of UK Region for Ørsted.

The report states that offshore wind is now the fastest growing form of electricity generation in the UK. Statistics released by the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) a day before the CCC’s report was published confirm this.

Namely, BEIS’s quarterly Energy Trends report from 25 June shows that offshore wind generation in the first three months of 2020 was 53.1 per cent higher compared to the same period last year.

The Committee added that there is further potential for more than 75 GW of offshore wind to be operational in the UK by 2050. In May 2019, the CCC published a report saying the UK would need 75 GW of operating offshore wind capacity to reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target by 2050.

Making the case for offshore wind in its latest progress report, the Committee highlights that offshore wind costs have fallen from GBP 140-150/MWh for new projects in 2014 to around GBP 40/MWh for projects coming online in the mid-2020s, which is below the cost of new gas-fired generation.

Government policy and industry innovation were the main drivers in rapid cost reduction, with government policy lowering risk and cutting finance costs, and industry advancing through learning-by-doing. The industry has been making the most of economies of scale and falling financing costs, as confidence in new technologies grew with their deployment, according to the the report.

As an example of impact that deployment of renewable energy has on the economy, the report highlights the North East of England that has benefited through the development of offshore wind supply chain.

“The report also recognises the cost reduction journey that offshore wind has gone through in the last decade. This has only been possible because of the stable regulatory regime in this country which has given developers, supply chain businesses and the financial sector the confidence to invest and to support and encourage innovation. This in turn has created huge opportunities for UK supply chain companies, both domestically and overseas, to market the skills and innovative technologies that have been fostered in the UK offshore wind industry. ​If we take decisive action now this a success story that the UK can repeat as we move to the next stage of decarbonising our economy”, Ørsted’s Duncan Clark said in a statement.

The report also suggests areas for post-COVID-19 investment, including offshore wind, as well as close-to-market green technologies such as floating wind.

“The Committee on Climate Change’s report is extremely timely as the Government considers the role renewable energy can play in helping our economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic whilst ensuring we continue the essential work to respond to climate change and keep global warming under 1.5˚C”, Clark said.

Photo: Ørsted/Illustration