Just eight senior leaders across the European offshore wind market believe the UK can deliver its national production target by 2030.
According to a report released today by research consultancy Newton, just 4 per cent out of 200 senior decision makers within the wind farm industry believe the infrastructure can be built and start delivering the 50 GW target within the time.
The UK already produces 15GW of offshore wind, and a further 10-15GW is already funded, so 80 per cent of those surveyed are confident that the UK will successfully produce 30GW by 2030.
However regarding the remaining 20GW, 63 per cent of leaders believe the UK will mobilise more than 30GW and 40 per cent say 40GW, but the number who believe the 50GW target is achievable is just 4 per cent.
This issue is acutely highlighted by the particulars of the UK’s latest ‘big splash’ wind farm deal, according to Dan Parker, a partner at Newton.
“The Dogger Bank deal Rishi Sunak made at COP28 – huge numbers, great step in the right direction – delivers 3GW and the generation isn’t expected to come through until 2031” he told City A.M.
“So whilst it is exactly the step in the direction that we need, this is ultimately a pace and capacity problem and we need an order of magnitude more of it quickly to hit the targets.”
One of the principal drivers of doubt is the UK’s port, labour and vessel capacity, with more than two thirds of leaders (67 per cent) warn that the UK’s current capability is too limited to support both the offshore wind and oil and gas sectors.
In the Autumn Statement, the Government published its full response to the Winser review and Connections Action Plan, aiming to halve the time to build major grid upgrades.
This, combined with the announcement of ~£20bn of funding for 26 projects under the Accelerated Strategic Transmission Investment (ASTI) framework last December, mark big steps in the right direction.
But transforming the grid is no mean feat; for it to be achievable, The National Grid needs to build five times more transmission lines by 2030 as it has in the last 30 years.
Parker added that “it is now on the grid to deliver”.
The role of oil and gas
The oil and gas industry has a major role to play in the UK’s offshore wind journey, with 70 per cent of leaders – saying that the oil and gas industry should allocate more resources to advance the UK offshore wind sector.
Nearly half (48%) of leaders see the need to re-purpose existing offshore infrastructure and hope oil and gas firms will create synergies with supply chains, and 39% call for help in electrifying offshore platform operations.
Asked on the prospect of a Labour government’s prospects for changing the situation at a different pace, Parker said the matter was apolitical.
“Given the timelines we have to fix these problems, any uncertainty is bad and the political consideration is that we need clear, consistent leadership on this topic regardless of which party is in power”.
The UK offshore wind industry remains the second most advanced in the world behind China.