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New UK renewables schemes, mainly offshore wind, win record low support contracts

Twelve new renewable energy projects, nearly all offshore or sited on Scottish islands and together providing 6 GW of generating capacity, have won Contracts for Difference (CfDs) under the government’s renewables support scheme. For the first time, these projects are expected to come online below market prices and without additional subsidies on bills, says the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The costs of offshore wind are now around 30% lower than the last auction held in 2017, with projects now being delivered for as low as £39.65/MWh, added BEIS. 

Offshore wind dominated this CfD round, with the 3.6 GW Dogger Bank scheme and the 1.4 GW Sofia scheme, both to be sited off England’s east coast, providing the most of the 5.8 GW of proposed new wind capacity. Smaller farms on Scottish islands – Orkney and the Isle of Lewis – are also included, the first time that ‘remote island’ onshore schemes have been eligible.

The other two ‘advanced conversion’ technologies are a 28 MW energy-from-waste project in Nottingham and a 6 MW biopower scheme in Birmingham. 

The CfD scheme is the government’s primary method of supporting new low-carbon electricity schemes. 

Trade association RenewableUK welcomed the announcement. It estimates that the 5.5 GW of offshore wind projects will support over 7,000 jobs on the six projects and throughout the UK supply chain. The offshore wind projects will be built between 2023 and 2025 and are expected to generate 28 TWh of power each year. Chief Executive Hugh McNeal said: ‘Securing this record amount of new renewable energy capacity in this auction is the biggest single step that the UK has taken towards meeting our net zero emissions target.’ 

The announcement, made on the day of global ‘climate strikes’, was met with near universal approval. Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive of electricity industry trade association Energy UK, said: ‘Today’s exceptionally low results are tremendously exciting, on a day of global climate action, and show just what can be done right now. The cost of clean energy is continuing to fall, and the move to a low carbon future is being delivered at the lowest cost to consumers.’ 

The UK has the largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world, with around 8 GW in place at the end of 2018. 

Meanwhile, energy regulator Ofgem has given the go-ahead to Scottish and Southern Energy Networks’ (SSEN’s) plan for a 220 MW electricity transmission link from Orkney Islands to mainland Scotland. The link, estimated to cost around £260mn, would be completed from 2023 and enable new wind farms and, potentially, new tidal power projects on Orkney to send electricity to the rest of Great Britain.

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Countries: Scotland - UK -

Organisation: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Subjects: Offshore wind power, Energy from waste, Renewables, Bioenergy,

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