RenewableUK has published a manifesto for the general election in the UK, calling on politicians from all parties to maximise the generation of low-cost power from renewables and promote growth across the economy by ensuring the sector expands rapidly in the 2020s and beyond
The new document, ‘The Tipping Point: Clean Power at Net Zero Scale,’ calls for a clear strategy to ensure that the UK reaches its legally-binding net zero emissions target quickly and cheaply to maximise economic benefits. RenewableUK sets out a vision of rapid decarbonisation in the next decade, driven by increased ambition for large-scale wind and innovative renewable technologies, as well as a new regulatory approach aligned to net zero.
To achieve this, RenewableUK is calling on parties to support an increased ambition for the expansion of offshore wind.
In an election speech on 13 November 2019, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a raft of measures, among them increasing the country’s offshore wind capacity to 40 GW by 2030 through measures including adoption of floating windfarms. In September, the opposition Labour party committed to a goal 12 GW higher of 52 GW of offshore wind by 2030.
The Offshore Wind Industry Council welcomed Mr Johnson’s commitment to more than quadrupling the UK’s offshore wind capacity by 2030, if the Conservatives win the General Election.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s plan, Offshore Wind Industry Council co-chair Benj Sykes said, “We welcome this commitment to expand offshore wind in the UK, as it will boost our ability to reach net-zero emissions at low cost using a technology which can deliver at scale.
“Offshore wind is now cheaper than gas, nuclear and coal and creates tens of thousands of jobs. As the world leader in offshore wind, this is a technology that the UK is right to be proud of. We look forward to working with whichever party forms the next government to implement the actions we need to deliver an increased target for offshore wind.”
The current Offshore Wind Sector Deal sets the goal of at least one-third of the UK’s power being generated from offshore wind by 2030 with 30 GW installed. The latest auction for new clean power contracts for difference (CfDs) in September showed that the cost of offshore wind has fallen by two-thirds since 2015, and the contracts secured new capacity at below the current market rate for 15 years.
To meet the increased ambition for 2030 and beyond, the manifesto calls for CfD auctions to continue on a regular basis. RenewableUK asks the next government to review the frequency and structure of the auctions to maximise deployment, as well as encouraging investment in the UK supply chain. Ministers are also asked to co-ordinate better across departments to address issues such as aviation radar constraints and improved resourcing for the planning bodies.
The manifesto also calls on the next government to support innovative renewables in which the UK is a world leader, like floating offshore wind and marine energy. The trade body highlights the fact that floating wind, which enables the industry to build offshore wind projects in deeper waters further out to sea, will be needed to fully harness the UK’s offshore wind potential. The manifesto said floating wind can support up to 17,000 UK jobs, and deliver up to £33.6Bn of economic activity by 2050.
RenewableUK also urged the next government to set out a new strategy backing onshore wind, the UK’s biggest single renewable power technology. The manifesto includes calls for onshore wind to have access to CfD auctions for clean power and an update to the planning system to allow older turbines to be replaced by more modern versions. Industry estimates that growing the UK’s onshore wind capacity from 13.5 GW today to 35 GW in 2035, as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, would save the average household £50 a year and support 31,000 jobs.