Committee sets out how government can strengthen UK offshore wind

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has set out how the remaining barriers for the expansion of offshore wind in the UK can be overcome.

Writing to Energy Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng on 3 July, EAC Chairman, Philip Dunne, said that while the committee recognised the “huge progress” made in the development of offshore wind in the UK since 2010, its recent inquiry, Technical Innovation and Climate Change, had highlighted a number of areas which the government must address to remove barriers to further progress.

The increased scale of future offshore wind will require “major development” of the electricity transmission networks, both onshore and offshore, the EAC said, noting connecting to the grid remains a challenging issue for new wind farms. The current approach offers each developer a bespoke single connection, with multiple wind farms then causing significant impacts from cabling to the local environment and communities. To minimise this and drive efficiency for operators, the EAC called for Ofgem to consider alternative methods for grid connection, enabling developers more flexibility to support greater use.

With the UK a world leader in offshore wind technologies, the EAC called on government to consider its export potential, while also urging it to look to the examples of France and other European countries which have invested significant in deep water ports. As the size of turbine blades increases, the demand for deep water ports – which are also needed to support floating wind farms – are getting greater and with the UK’s reaching capacity. By looking at France and other European countries, the EAC said the government must clarify how it is supporting port investment and co-location of technology clusters to develop competitive advantage.