Environmental Audit Committee launches offshore wind inquiry

Environmental Audit Committee launches offshore wind inquiry

By: Tom Russell 4C Offshore 07/04/2020

Environmental Audit Committee offshore wind inquiry

The UK's Environmental Audit Committee has launched an overarching inquiry looking at technological innovations which could contribute to tackling climate change. Each part of the inquiry will look at a specific technology currently in use or in development and consider its potential and how Government policy can facilitate the UK making the best and most cost-effective use of that technology.

The first session of this inquiry will look at offshore wind power. This session will consider the opportunities to maximise continued uptake and effectiveness of this technology, and the challenges faced by the industry in delivering greater capacity.

The Committee is inviting views on:

  • How effective has the Government’s offshore wind Sector Deal been in moving the sector towards becoming an integral part of a low-cost, low-carbon, flexible grid system and boosting the productivity and competitiveness of the UK supply chain?
  • What level of output can the sector deliver in the UK, and what Government support would be needed to achieve this?
    How might the UK take advantage of further technological advances in offshore wind technology, particularly in relation to floating arrays?
  • What support does the sector require to keep pace with the most cutting-edge innovations, such as in blade technology?
  • What is the UK industry doing to promote the sustainability of offshore wind arrays throughout their entire life-cycle from development through to decommissioning, and to improve maintenance and end-of-life repair?
  • How well is the UK industry managing the environmental and social impacts of offshore wind installations, particularly on coastal communities with transmission-cable landing sites?
  • How well is Government policy supporting innovation in transmission technology to improve the efficiency of electricity transmission?
  • Looking to the future, what can the onshore wind sector learn from the offshore success story?

The committee wants to hear public views. It is open to submissions from anyone with answers to the questions in the call for evidence. It is taking submissions until Friday 15 May 2020.

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. This includes a pledge from the government to facilitate 40 GW of offshore wind by 2030, and to support the development of floating turbines.

The Crown Estate, which acts as manager of the seabed around England, opened the Invitation to Tender (ITT) Stage 1 for Round 4 of its offshore wind leasing programme on 1 April 2020. Round 4 is expected to facilitate the installation of at least 7 GW of new offshore wind capacity off the coasts of England and Wales.

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 A, Doggerbank B, Doggerbank A, Forthwind,  Seagreen Phase 1 and Sofia offshore wind farms. The cumulative capacity of these awarded projects exceeds 5.4 GW.

Environmental Audit Committee Offshore Wind Enquiry

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