Marine Energy Wales has welcomed the recent announcement from UK government on their commitment to renewable energy, especially offshore wind, while also reminding them of the significant opportunity wave, tidal stream and tidal range energy generation presents.
This statement follows the announcement made by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 6 October, 2020, setting out plans to boost offshore wind development in the country as part of the Build Back Greener initiative.
These commitments include boosting targets for offshore wind capacity from 30GW to 40GW by 2030 as well as creating a new target for floating offshore wind to deliver 1 GW of energy by 2030.
Marine Energy Wales welcomes this new target for floating offshore wind, and as secretariat for the Celtic Sea Alliance look forward to working with UK Government, Welsh Government and Celtic partners to unlock the potential that the Celtic Sea offers. With up to 250 GW of wind resource and independent studies suggesting 50 GW of realistic capacity, the Celtic Sea will play a key role in delivering the new target.
In his announcement Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our seas hold immense potential to power our homes and communities with low-cost green energy and we are already leading the way in harnessing its strengths”.
However, Marine Energy Wales remind the UK Government that the UK is not only leading in offshore wind development, but in other green energy technologies such as wave, tidal stream and tidal range. Our recently launched State of the Sector Report highlights that we have the potential to establish an early mover advantage for this sector in an export market worth an estimated £76million by 2050, while driving inward investment being felt throughout our peripheral economies and UK supply chain.
Jess Hooper, MEW Programme Manager commented:
“As the prime minister stated “our seas hold immense potential” to produce green energy, however there are a number of sustainable and efficient ways we can harness this strength. The UK currently has a global leading role in marine energy such as wave, tidal stream and tidal range as well as floating offshore wind which we need to capitalise on. Having an energy mix provides the UK with energy security and helps to meet our ambitious carbon zero targets, therefore we call on UK Government to support the full range of marine energy generation on offer”.
Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) said floating wind will play a major role in the UK’s future energy mix. He described it as “a hugely exciting opportunity and a dynamic area of growth which sits squarely and centrally in the Government’s goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050”.
As part of the Build Back Greener Initiative, there is also a commitment to setting a target to support up to double the capacity of renewable energy in the next Contracts for Difference auction, which will open in late 2021. Marine Energy Wales recently responded to the Government’s call for evidence on the potential of marine energy projects highlighting the importance of Contracts for Difference (CfD) to ensure that there’s a route to market for the commercialisation of innovative, emerging technologies and to develop a world-leading marine energy industry in Wales and the UK.
Marine Energy Wales proposed that the CfD should complement a proposed Innovation Power Purchase Agreement for early smaller projects and provide a mechanism that supports larger projects; enabling progression to deploying arrays of these technologies. We also proposed that a consideration of a ‘minima’ within the pot for each of wave, tidal stream and FLOW technologies is needed to ensure that these nascent technologies do not have to compete with larger established technologies such as offshore wind. A CfD minima that extends across rounds through the 2020s will boost commercial confidence, attract private investment and secure local benefits.
The UK Government has additionally committed £160million to upgrade ports and infrastructure needed to accommodate future offshore projects, which could have multi-sector applications bringing more added value.
These commitments are the first stage outlined as part of the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, which will be set out later this year. Marine Energy Wales looks forward to finding out more about this plan and will continue to engage with its membership to help ensure a strong, unified voice for the sector.