• Government plans to scale up offshore wind power from 10GW to 40GW by 2030 – helping power an extra 14 million homes with green energy
  • New review to focus on improving the cabling and transmission infrastructure to reduce the costs and impacts of connecting new wind farms to the onshore electricity grid
  • Move comes as electricity generated from wind power rises to 30% in first quarter of 2020, with UK now home to world’s largest offshore wind farms.

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng has announced a review into improving the transmission infrastructure at sea to help the UK quadruple the installed capacity of offshore wind by 2030.

The UK is investing more in offshore wind than any other country and is home to the world’s largest windfarms with Walney and Hornsea 1 in the North Sea. Offshore wind will play a key role in delivering net-zero emissions by 2050, with a Government commitment to scale it up to 40GW by the end of the decade. This would mean a huge increase in the number of wind farms being built off the UK’s shores, needing effective connection to the grid.

The Energy Minister said the review will consider the current system of constructing individual point-to-point connections for individual offshore wind farms with the mainland, and whether other solutions including shared infrastructure would best support the expansion.

It will also consider how hybrid projects could combine offshore wind connections with interconnectors to neighbouring markets – helping export more green energy abroad.

The news comes as the Oil and Gas Authority today publishes its Energy Integration Project report, predicting that offshore renewables could contribute an extra 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 if they reused old oil and gas infrastructure off the UK’s shores.

There are already over 30 integration projects underway across the UK oil and gas fields, involving electrification of oil and gas platforms and reusing existing infrastructure to accelerate carbon capture and storage (CCUS). The OGA says far more need to happen in the years ahead.

Renewable energy made up 47% of the UK’s electricity generation in the first three months of 2020 – smashing the previous quarterly record of 39% set last year. This was largely powered by offshore wind, generating 30% of the UK’s electricity in the four months to April – beating the previous record of 22.3% in the final months of 2019.

RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive, Melanie Onn, said:

“There is clearly a need to review how we connect future projects to the grid given the scale of ambition for offshore wind, so we welcome today’s announcement. It’s vital that Government, Ofgem, National Grid and industry all work together to achieve our 2030 target of 40GW and develop effective, long-term solutions to deliver the level of offshore wind the UK will need to meet our net zero emissions target.”

Executive Director of the Electricity System Operator, Fintan Slye, said:

“Assessing the best approach to offshore windfarm connections will be vital for the industry to scale up and reach its full potential in the years ahead. We fully support the minister with this review, assessing the costs and benefits of different coordinated offshore network designs and technology and how to best minimise the impact on consumers and coastal communities.”

The offshore network transmission review will bring together representatives from the offshore wind industry and authorities involved in the timing, siting, design and delivery of windfarms over the next decade. It follows a Committee on Climate Change recommendation and aims to encourage greater coordination between windfarm developers to make the infrastructure serving them more efficient.

Picture courtesy of Alison Maxwell – Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy

Picture of Rt Hon Kwarsi Kwarteng MP visiting the Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy site in Hull today. He met with operatives and apprentices and toured the port and blade factory. There was a great deal of media interest following renewed commitment from the government for renewables and offshore wind.