Energy minister calls for urgent action to realise huge offshore potential

Energy minister calls for urgent action to realise huge offshore potential

Minister for energy and the environment Gillian Martin has called for immediate UK Government action to make the transformative potential of offshore wind a reality.

Ms Martin said significant reinforcement and expansion of the electricity/power grid is needed, using the UK Government’s reserved powers, to connect offshore wind projects including ScotWind – with the potential to power many millions more homes.

Before giving a speech at one of the UK’s largest offshore wind conferences in London yesterday, the minister also called for new powers to modernise the planning and consenting system for grid infrastructure to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Martin will meet a range of key industry figures at Renewable UK’s Global Offshore Wind 2023, including outgoing UK Offshore Wind Champion Tim Pick, whose independent report made a series of key recommendations to the UK Government to accelerate delivery of offshore wind energy.

The minister said: “Scotland finds itself at the forefront of a renewable energy revolution. ScotWind, as the world’s largest commercial leasing round for floating offshore wind, has set the benchmark for industrial-scale deployment. We need to be ready to capitalise on that and take forward the greatest economic opportunity of recent times.

“There is more that Ofgem, the National Grid electricity system operator and the UK Government can do. High transmission charges remain a key barrier to Net Zero in Scotland and a new approach is needed.

“Reform of the connections process is urgently required to allow projects to join when they’re ready to do so. And the UK Government needs to provide the right powers to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government that will enable us to modernise the planning and consenting system for grid infrastructure.

“These are challenges which must be tackled immediately if Scotland – and indeed the UK – is to stay on target for a just transition to net zero and to truly reap the benefits of Scotland’s enormous offshore wind potential.”

Meanwhile, Crown Estate Scotland has published a new report, covering long-term lifespan and financing options for offshore wind assets. Scotland currently has 1.9GW of offshore wind capacity in operation, the oldest of which will reach the point of decommissioning or life-extension before 2030.

Commissioned from OWC consultants in 2022, this report aims to:

  • Aid the understanding of the options available to offshore wind developers and the potential revenues they can access as their assets come towards the end of their operational life;
  • Identify the relevant financing mechanisms available to support low carbon generation; and
  • Assess the feasibility of these mechanisms in financing end-of-life scenarios for offshore wind farms including decommissioning, life extension, and repowering.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Financial modelling which suggests that scenarios ranging from decommissioning to full repowering of those assets will offer broadly similar returns
  • The recommendation that a strong case should be made for offshore projects to be granted access to the Contracts for Difference (CfD) mechanism for repowering investments
  • Recognition of the importance of creating a circular economy for components, to enable ongoing operation for assets

The full report is available here.

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