The UK leads the world in offshore wind installations, but even if all projects currently in the pipeline are developed, it will miss its 2030 target.
Offshore wind is currently predicted to offer 29.7GW of electricity generation capacity by 2030, although the UK Government wants it to hit 40GW by that date. That means the country needs even more offshore wind sites if it hopes to achieve that goal.
The latest figures come from Cornwall Insight’s ‘Renewables pipeline tracker report’, which currently tracks 22 sites across both floating and fixed foundation technologies, with many sites looking to progress through the upcoming Contracts for Difference (CfD) Allocation Round 4.
Lucy Dolton, an analyst at Cornwall Insight, commented, “Assuming all prospective sites with seabed leasing are built, the current pipeline will fall well short of the 40GW by 2030 target recently reiterated by the government. In fact, this would start falling by the end of the decade as the earliest offshore wind sites under the Renewables Obligation (RO) start to reach the end of their economic life.
“Increasing the pipeline of prospective offshore wind sites is, therefore, a priority if we are to reach the 40GW ambition and critical to the pipeline will be upcoming seabed leasing rounds in 2021. Both the ScotWind and Crown Estate Leasing rounds will be the first of their kind in a decade and as such will be highly indicative of the magnitude of development that has occurred in offshore wind within this time frame.
“The 8GW-10GW ScotWind Leasing round is due to open in early 2021. Also expected early next year is the bidding stage of the Crown Estate’s Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4, set to create the opportunity for “at least 7GW” of new projects.
“Signs are promising following Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing his Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. The Energy White Paper is due to outline further details for offshore wind support in the coming weeks. Alongside this, the Scottish government announced on 28 October that it will aim for 11GW of offshore wind by 2030.
“Our analysis has also shown how projects are now building in deeper water further from shore to take advantage of greater load factors and also utilise new turbine technologies. No doubt, future offshore wind sites will likely continue to develop in this way in the pursuit of ever-cheaper costs and increased competition through the CfD scheme.
“However, it will still be a major task for the sector to plan, develop and deliver a further 10GW of offshore wind projects