The winds are certainly blowing in an offshore direction as the UK looks set to further increase support for offshore wind and achieve its Net Zero targets. On 4 March the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) stated that offshore wind will "play a key role in helping the UK meet net zero by 2050". The policy boost came from BEIS' "one year on" update to the Offshore wind Sector Deal, a policy which set a wave of ambitious targets and commitments in a partnership between government and the sector back in March last year.
The government is recognising the scale on which Net Zero will drive policy decisions and create a mandate for more ambitious targets on renewables; established targets for increasing the volume of offshore wind fall short of what we now know is required to achieve Net Zero. The update also discusses how Net Zero commands increased electrification across the economy and that this a key reason for the push. This rationale harmonises with that in Ofgem's recent industry publication on decarbonisation, which stated that transport will be a key source of this increased demand particularly in relation to electric vehicle uptake (as we have discussed here).
Government commitment to increasing deployment of offshore wind is evident in a key announcement this same week that offshore wind technologies might be given increased recognition under the Contract for Difference for low carbon generation scheme, as discussed in our last post. Amongst the proposals up for consultation is the idea of giving fixed offshore wind its own 'pot' for auctioning independent of less established offshore renewables. The consultation will also look for ideas to increase support floating offshore technologies in the CfD allocation process. The consultation is expected to attract much input and speculation from key stakeholders but it is clear that offshore wind will play a continued and increasing part of the CfD scheme throughout its current period if not beyond.
The announcement is encouraging for offshore projects in the pipeline and will be welcome news for the sector.
BEIS says that offshore wind will “play a key role in helping the UK meet net zero by 2050″. Now the sector deal update says “Meeting net zero is likely to require higher volumes of offshore wind deployment than previously envisaged, to meet greater levels of electrification across the economy.”