UK sets ambitious offshore targets, electricity market reforms criticised

» By | Published 13 Jul 2011

By Raha Obaei

The UK government has called for ambitious goals on offshore wind energy in the government’s ‘UK Renewable Energy Roadmap’, published on Tuesday. The targets – for 18 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2020 instead of 13 GW called for by the Committee on Climate Change, a government advisory body – have been made with the hopes of making the UK one of the largest offshore wind power hubs in the world.

The aim is to bring down the cost of offshore wind in order to make it competitive with other power technologies. Under the plans, the cost of energy produced by offshore wind in 2020 could be as low as £100, compared to the current rate at £140 to £170 per megawatt hour.

RenewableUK, Britain’s wind, wave and tidal energy association, welcomes the proposals stating that they will, “properly address most of the industry’s concerns.”

At the same time the UK government laid out plans for an overhaul of the country’s electricity market. The reforms will be the biggest change to the energy industry in 20 years, and are meant to encourage investors to invest in long term low carbon energies.

RenewablesUK’s Chief executive Maria McCaffery said,”the announcement provides a huge boost to the wind industry…creating a low-carbon economy (and) there will be massive growth in jobs as a result of this expansion.”

However, there has also been some backlash that accuses the government of creating conditions that would leave the UK more dependent on gas powered electricity. Louise Hutchins, Greenpeace, said, “consumers are bearing the brunt of colossal price hikes in domestic energy bills because of the over reliance of the big six energy suppliers on importing expensive fossil fuels while at the same time ignoring clean energy sources around our shores.”

According to the Guardian, the proposal would benefit all forms of “low carbon electricity”, which could mean subsidizing nuclear energy indirectly.