News in Brief, BB200707
UK Sets Sights on 20% Target
Years of hard work, meetings, briefings, conferences, and a sustained push for offshore wind power to figure prominently into the UK energy mix have now started to pay off in terms of construction, consents, as well as a regulatory framework.
In the heart of Liverpool on June 7th, BWEA gathered more than 300 leading figures in the offshore wind industry from the United Kingdom and beyond. Key stakeholders included grid regulators, representatives from the shipping industry as well as environmental NGOs, including Alistair Buchanan, CEO Ofgem; Edmund Brookes, Deputy Director-General, Chamber of Shipping and David Young, Executive Director of Natural England, all voiced their support for offshore wind in the opening session of the one day event.
The EU target for 20% of energy to come from renewables by 2020, as agreed to last March by the Council, was the main point of discussion at the conference. Specific attention was paid to how, and how quickly, the UK Government will be able to implement its share of the target. Although the UK does intend to get 20% of its electricity from renewables by 2020, there are currently no targets for the other main energy sectors of transport fuel and heating. “I was heartened to hear such important players express their support for our industry and their desire for early dialogue” commented BWEA CEO Maria McCaffery. “Their contribution provides a great sense of confidence as we move forward. I am a firm believer that with goodwill, plain speaking and early engagement of all stakeholders, great things are possible."
There was broad consensus among conference participants that early engagement is the key to allocating new large sites for development and delivery by 2020. This is a crucial stepping stone if the sector is to play its necessary role.
The UK offshore wind market is currently in full swing, with several projects presently under construction. Participants had the opportunity to visit a very important one - Burbo Bank near Liverpool. This wind farm, the UK's 4th large-scale offshore farm scheduled for completion prior to the end of 2007, will on its own increase the UK's offshore wind portfolio by 33% (UK will then reach 360 MW of offshore wind). Combined with the three other projects the UK will be the world leader in offshore wind, ahead of pioneer Denmark. Looking ahead, the market perspective looks bright as more than 1800 MW in three separate projects in the Thames Strategic Area have recently been granted approval.
On the regulatory side, this sixth annual BWEA Offshore Conference came just in time - less than one month after the release of the UK Energy White Paper. The White Paper sets out the UK government’s international and domestic energy strategy, in response to the domestic long-term energy challenges. It lists four key energy policy goals:
1. To put the UK on a path to cutting CO2 emissions by some 60% by about 2050, with real progress by 2020;
2. To maintain the reliability of UK energy supplies;
3. To promote competitive markets in the UK and beyond;
4. To ensure that every home is adequately and affordably heated.
BWEA, the UK’s wind energy association, has welcomed most elements of the White Paper. It agrees that the proposed changes to the Renewables Obligation will provide much needed confidence to developing technologies such as offshore wind, and to a lesser extent wave and tidal power. Equally welcome is the maintenance of support for onshore wind power, which is the technology that will provide the bulk of government’s current target of 10% of the UK’s power from renewables by 2010.
According to BWEA, key issues around planning and grid still require resolution. In terms of planning, the White Paper will not deliver the short-term action required to release the 8,000 MW of onshore wind currently held up in the planning system. This amount alone represents as much as 6% of the UK’s electricity supply. In terms of grid requirements, the government still needs to take a lead on reform of grid management and technical standards so that more renewable generators can be allowed onto existing grids.
EWEA is satisfied to see the rapid and promising market development of offshore wind in the United Kingdom. EWEA supports the recent regulatory changes that the UK seeks to implement, in order to further boost wind power in general and offshore wind in particular.
Offshore wind is a key technology in moving towards the energy, climate, Maritime Policy and Lisbon Agenda goals of the EU. It is a clean, indigenous, powerful and as of now largely untapped resource. In the UK, offshore wind power is understood to be central in achieving the 20% by 2020 EU target for renewables; in Liverpool this message was embraced by conference participants, and sent loud and clear to the rest of Europe.