Greenpeace suggests taking a more ‘strategic approach’ to offshore wind grid infrastructure, including increasing the number of grid connections to land shared between several projects.  

Offshore wind should be 'backbone' of UK green recovery

Renews.biz   4 June 2020

Industry tells environmental audit committee about 'economic opportunities' offered by the sector. The UK government needs to ensure offshore wind is the backbone of the energy system by putting the country on track to deliver its 40GW by 2030 goal, according to a manifesto for green recovery launched by NGO Greenpeace UK.

Greenpeace UK's manifesto, released today, proposes a range of new investment initiatives and policy measures to be implemented in order to help grow the economy in response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Separately, offshore wind industry leaders told the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee that offshore wind will play a central role in the UK’s economic recovery after the pandemic.  The committee heard evidence today of the economic opportunities offered by the sector from the co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council and head of market development, consenting and external affairs for Orsted Benj Sykes.  He said:

“The offshore wind industry is investing £50bn in the UK economy over the course of this decade so that we can hit the government’s target of 40GW by 2030.
“This technology is playing a major role in decarbonisation, thanks partly to the Offshore Wind Sector Deal agreed by government and the industry which provides confidence and certainty for investors and developers.
“Consumers are benefitting too; offshore wind has smashed its cost reduction targets and is now one the cheapest ways to generate new power.
“We can drive down operation and maintenance costs even more by using robotics and sharing data more widely.”

Sykes added that the industry is continuing to innovate.  He said:

“The UK is the world leader in floating wind which is developing fast and allows us to build in much deeper waters further offshore.
“Renewable hydrogen, generated using electricity from offshore wind farms, will also play an important role in our energy system.
“We already have ground-breaking projects in the UK doing this and the technology will grow faster than anyone expects. Government has an opportunity here by supporting innovative projects.”

Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult chief executive Andrew Jamieson told the committee:

“At a time when both regenerating the UK economy and delivering on our decarbonisation commitments are more critical than ever, we believe greater innovation can transform the UK’s offshore wind supply chain, create jobs and economic growth and build a long-term, world-leading powerhouse industry.
“To achieve this, we need to see key measures such as an acceleration in the consenting process and modernisation of the grid.
“Quadrupling our current offshore wind capacity over the course of this decade will provide a tremendous boost to the UK’s economic productivity, in terms of manufacturing and servicing our projects and exporting our expertise around the world.”

RenewableUK head of policy and regulation Rebecca Williams said:

“The economic opportunity is absolutely huge.
“As this country exits lockdown and looks for economic solutions, offshore wind is playing a leading role by investing in communities, creating tens of thousands of highly-skilled jobs especially in coastal areas.
“We need government to play its part by setting the right framework for the industry to expand fast as possible, such as strategic investments in developing modern infrastructure for ports where turbines are assembled and supply chain companies are based.
“If this can be achieved, we can make a significant contribution to the Government’s target of net zero emissions.”

The Greenpeace manifesto also called for targets for total generation of at least 40GW of solar and 30GW of onshore wind by 2030.

In order to achieve the offshore goals the NGO suggests taking a more ‘strategic approach’ to offshore wind grid infrastructure, including increasing the number of grid connections to land shared between several projects.  This will save money, minimise onshore impacts by requiring fewer substations to be developed, and reduce planning delays, Greenpeace said.

The manifesto also states that support is required for onshore wind, solar and offshore wind projects throughout the 2020s by ensuring that the planned Contract for Difference auctions go ahead without delay, at least every two years, and that no capacity limits are placed on any of the competing technologies.

The organisation said that for offshore wind, at least 4.5GW of projects per year should be contracted at the next auction, expected to conclude in the second half of 2021, and annual build-out levels should be increased even further in auctions beyond that.

Throughout the 2020s, around 2GW per year or more of onshore wind, and around 4GW per year of solar should be contracted.  The government should improve and streamline the planning regime for all renewables and support rooftop solar, the NGO said.

Greenpeace said clear priority should be given to offshore wind as a use of the seabed, ahead of oil and gas extraction, aggregate dredging or fishing.

The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland should be required to designate substantially more seabed for offshore wind than currently proposed.

The Ministry of Defence should be mandated to procure offshore wind-compatible radar technology, and increase cooperation across the MoD, BEIS, the DfT, the aviation sector and other stakeholders so that by 2030 all surveillance capabilities include wind farm tolerance as standard and are commercially viable for aviation.

The manifesto also said that the Offshore Wind Sector Deal between government and industry to be updated to increase ambition and unlock bottlenecks.

Greenpeace also called for an upgrade to the electricity grid to ensure a smart and flexible energy system, increasing UK energy security and strengthening the UK’s specialism in advanced digital technology.  The Treasury and BEIS should set ambitious targets and stimulate routes to market for renewable hydrogen, interconnection across borders, battery storage and demand-side response.

Ofgem’s core mandate should be expanded to include supporting the delivery of net zero emissions, alongside protecting consumers, it added.

The manifesto can be found here.

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