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UK’s Crown Estate recommends UK switching attention from nuclear power to offshore wind

The Walney wind farm, in the Irish Sea. Credit: Wikimediaflag-UKHinkley C’s future is in doubt. Let’s turn our sights to offshore wind
Falling costs and increased reliability mean this clean power now offers a mature part of the solution for the UK’s energy mix Guardian 15 Aug 16  
Huub den Rooijen Director of energy, minerals and infrastructure at Crown Estate

With the government re-examining the case for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point, it’s a good time to reflect on recent breakthroughs in another low carbon technology: offshore wind.

Offshore wind is already meeting about 5% of the UK’s electricity demand, more than any other country globally, and is on course to meet 10% by 2020. The sector has undergone a sea change over the last few years, driven by rapid advances in technology, cost, and industry’s ability to deliver on time and to budget.

In fact, over the last three years, construction costs have come down by more than 40% in the UK alone. And by 2025, industry and government expect UK prices to be comparable with new gas generation at about £85 per megawatt hour (MWh).

In the Netherlands, there has been an even bigger step change. Although there are differences in terms of regulation, most would agree that after a recent offshore wind tender the Dutch are now going to be paying the equivalent of about £80 per MWh for their 700MW windfarm. That is significantly lower than Hinkley Point C at £92.50per MWh.

As active managers of the UK seabed, including awarding leases for offshore wind, we take a keen interest in this result. After all, the Dutch windfarm is only about 75 miles away from UK waters, and has very similar conditions like water depth, wind speeds, and distances to ports. If costs can be slashed in the Netherlands, geography tells us they can be slashed here too……..

As the Committee on Climate Change urges government to consider alternatives if there are delays to renewing our nuclear fleet, we should remember our seabed is a powerful energy asset.

At present, we have 2,200 wind turbines in operation and under construction, taking up less than 1% of our total seabed. National Grid estimates that nearly half of all power could be generated from our seabed by 2030 through offshore wind, combined with tidal power lagoons and strong electrical connections to our neighbouring countries.

We have an inexhaustible supply of reliable and clean power right on our doorstep, and competitively priced offshore wind now offers a mature part of the solution for the UK’s energy mix. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/14/hinkley-cs-future-is-in-doubt-lets-turn-our-sights-to-offshore-wind

August 17, 2016 - Posted by | renewable, UK

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