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UK increases offshore wind electricity target

13 Jul 2011 16:21:33 | edem

The UK government has increased its target for offshore wind by about 5GW from earlier numbers, as it looks to move to a low-carbon electricity generation future.

Along with the white paper on electricity market reform (see separate story), UK energy secretary Chris Huhne released the government's renewables road map on Tuesday.

The plan says the UK can have up to 18GW of offshore wind-generated capacity by 2020 - 5GW above what the Committee for Climate Change has advised is practical (see EDEM 9 May 2011).

Under the Climate Change Act 2008, the UK is required to slash its CO2 emissions by 34% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050 against a 1990 baseline.

Under EU laws, the country is aiming to generate 30% of its consumed power from renewable sources by 2020 - with mass development of the offshore wind sector forming the cornerstone of this bid.

A key part of achieving the plan is reducing the cost of generating electricity from offshore wind to about £100/MWh (€113.6/MWh) - the current figure is £141-191/MWh. The government will invest £30m into achieving the cost reduction.

The road map also said that the governments that comprise the British-Irish Council are examining the feasibility of creating an offshore interconnected transmission network and subsea electricity grid to facilitate the so-called All-Islands approach, which could see wind power generated in Ireland exported to Britain and vice versa (see EDEM 20 June 2011).

Ofgem and the Department for Energy and Climate Change will release these findings by the end of 2011.

The UK said that it can achieve 29GW of generation capacity by 2020, including a further 9GW from onshore wind. Eight technologies were identified in the paper, which will deliver above 90% of the generation needed to hit new renewables targets. These included biomass, which the government had earlier appeared lukewarm on. The paper indicated the review into renewables banding would include bands for full conversion of coal plant to biomass.

The expected released of a review into renewables banding failed to materialise on Tuesday, as had been expected, but it should appear before parliament stands for summer recess on 27 July. FOR

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