Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced further support for the UK’s offshore wind industry in his 2021 budget announcement today (3 March 2020). The chancellor’s budget supports the government’s plan to generate enough electricity from offshore wind to power every home by 2030.
The budget support for offshore wind removes the need to take huge amounts of farmland out of food production for solar plants. Solar can now be concentrated closer to where the energy is needed on brownfield and more appropriate sites.
In the budget announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the launch of a £20 million programme to support the development of floating offshore wind technology across the UK.
The budget also revealed that an offer of support in principle has been issued to the Able Marine Energy Park (AMEP), Humberside, following the conclusion of the competition to upgrade ports infrastructure for the next generation of offshore wind. AMEP represents a c.£500m investment with the aim to provide 1,349m of new deep-water quays and a land area designated for offshore wind of around 217 ha (536 acres). AMEP’s primary activities will cover the manufacture, storage and installation of offshore wind components.
Sunak also announced that government will sign a memorandum of understanding with Teesworks Offshore Manufacturing Centre, Teesside, to support the development of another offshore wind port hub.
The news follows an announcement last month from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that it had launched an Offshore Wind Investment Programme to support the delivery of manufacturing investment in the offshore wind supply chain. It may provide grant funding for major investments in the manufacture of strategically important offshore wind components in certain disadvantaged or deprived regions in the UK. The programme is open to applications until 23:59 30 May 2021.
Government support for offshore wind generation has been increasing, with the cost of the technology falling by two thirds in the last five years. Last year Boris Johnson pledged that every UK home will be powered by electricity from offshore wind farms by 2030 and that £160m will be spent on ports and factories across the country to manufacture the next generation turbines. The plan includes quadrupling how much offshore wind energy the UK produces to 40GW by 2030.
This year, the UK government will hold the fourth round of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme. The fourth round aims to increase the capacity of renewable energy from the 5.8 GW achieved in the last round to up to 12 GW. The CfD scheme is the government’s primary method of supporting low-carbon electricity. It encourages investment in renewable energy by providing projects with a stable income, while protecting consumers from paying increased costs when electricity prices are high. The scheme is open to fixed offshore, floating and onshore wind energy as well as other renewable energy technologies.