UK offshore wind power to double by 2030
Plummeting renewable costs raise questions about government’s continued support for nuclear energy
Britain’s offshore wind capacity is set to double over the next decade, driven by a government strategy forcing turbine operators to bid for financial support in auctions.
Plummeting costs have made wind an increasingly affordable source of clean energy in recent years. By 2030, between a fifth and a third of the UK's electricity is expected to come from offshore wind power.
In a bid to give the industry the long-term stability it needs to continue to expand, Climate and Energy Secretary Claire Perry has confirmed that every two years the Government will hold auctions in which energy firms bid for contracts that guarantee a minimum price for the power they will sell.
The auction process “has forced firms to be transparent about the amount of support they actually need, and has halved the cost of supporting offshore wind”, says the BBC.
The system has been adopted worldwide “and is recognised as a major UK contribution to the development of clean energy” says the broadcaster.
Last year renewable sources supplied more than half of the UK’s energy for the first time, exceeding what was generated by burning coal and gas.
Yet the plummeting costs of wind and solar power, which has dropped by 99% since the technology was commercialised, has thrown the government’s commitment to nuclear power into question.
Theresa May has committed to building the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear power station, despite strong opposition from environmentalists, consumer groups and a National Audit Office report which claimed the project is “risky and expensive… with uncertain strategic and economic benefits”.
By contrast, Scotland has become a world leader in sourcing its electricity from renewables, after a record year in 2017 for creating eco-friendly energy.
The nation got more than two-thirds (68.1%) of its electricity from green schemes last year, The Independent reports, up from 54% the year before.