A new report published recently by RenewableUK sets out a series of key measures, including market and regulatory reforms, to ensure that our electricity system is decarbonised completely by the middle of the next decade, totally phasing out unabated gas generation, as a key step towards achieving the UK’s net zero emissions target by 2050.
“Roadmap to net zero: a manifesto for a fully decarbonised power system by 2035”, urges the Government to accelerate the pace and scale of decarbonisation dramatically, to reduce the UK’s vulnerability to the surging cost of gas by maximising the benefits of our cheapest sources of renewable power and rapidly developing a new green hydrogen industry.
The wide-ranging recommendations include reforming Contracts for Difference to attract more investment, particularly in supply chains. The report notes that although the CfD mechanism has successfully delivered new renewable capacity, the current market set up may not be enough to deliver the volume of projects needed to fully decarbonise by 2035, as surging global demand for offshore wind is increasing competition for investment and putting pressure on supply chains. These global pressures, combined with maturing technology, means that the trend of ever cheaper prices may be at an end. RenewableUK argues that an ‘evolution’ of the CfD is needed to incentivise long-term capital investment in major projects, build up supply chains and continue to provide consumers with clean energy at low and stable prices.
RenewableUK recommends that the Government should consider innovative new policies to make the UK the more attractive for investment in supply chains by, for example, creating new offshore wind enterprise zones where businesses can qualify for tax reliefs or tax credits, as happens in the USA.
Another key measure is that Government and industry should work together to streamline the process for developing new offshore wind sites, bringing together the skills, experience and capacity which is currently spread across a whole range of disparate bodies into a centralised regulatory authority for consenting and licensing.
The manifesto also highlights the need for a fundamental redesign of the way we plan and deliver network infrastructure to connect offshore wind farms to the grid, to minimise the impact on local communities. It recommends using the current Offshore Transmission Network Review to establish a long-term solution for planning grid infrastructure.
To maximise deployment, we are calling for the Government to review Research and Development funding levels so that support is similar to that available in other key strategic sectors for the economy such as oil & gas, automotive and aerospace.
RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Dan McGrail said: “Renewables are playing a more important role in our energy system than ever before. The gas crisis and invasion of Ukraine have pushed up the cost of fossil fuels – and consumer bills – to record highs. We need to decarbonise at pace to build a home-grown clean power sector as the cornerstone of the Government’s Energy Security Strategy.
“Meeting the target of decarbonising our power system completely by 2035 is our biggest challenge yet, but the industry stands ready to deliver and the recommendations in our manifesto set out exactly how this can be achieved.
“Speed and scale are key: we must revolutionise the rate at which we build new projects onshore and offshore. Working closely with Government and local communities, we need to transform the way we plan and regulate our energy system, to make the UK the best place to invest in by reforming the CfD mechanism. This will help us to develop our supply chains and build up whole new industries in innovative technologies like floating wind technology and green hydrogen, which we can export worldwide. If we get this right, we can attract £200 billion in private investment and deliver over 120,000 jobs in wind energy alone over the course of this decade”.
The report is being published on the second day of RenewableUK’s Global Offshore Wind 2022 conference and exhibition in Manchester.