Offshore wind leads the charge for UK renewables

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 26/06/2020 4C Offshore

In the first quarter of 2020, total electricity generation from renewables in Q1 2020 was 40.8 TWh, an increase of 30 per cent from 31.5 TWh in Q1 2019. This broke the previous record for quarterly renewable generation by nearly a quarter and is the largest increase in year on year quarterly generation. Renewables’ share of total electricity generation increased to 47.0 per cent, up by 11.1 percentage points on the share in Q1 2019.

Offshore wind had the largest share of renewable generation with 32.4 per cent, followed by 31.4 per cent from onshore wind, 25.5 per cent from bioenergy, 6.0 per cent from hydro and 4.7 per cent from solar PV.

Wind generation increased significantly for both offshore (53 per cent) and onshore (29) per cent to 13.2 TWh and 12.8 TWh hours respectively, both improving on the quarterly record by almost a third. In total wind generated 7.5 TWh more than 2019 Q1. Wind contributed 30 per cent of total electricity generation. The large increase in generation is due both to increased capacity and the weather conditions.

At the end of 2020 Q1, the UK’s renewable electricity capacity totalled 47.4 GW, an increase of 5.2 per cent on that installed at the end of 2019 Q1. Two thirds of this new capacity was from the completion of new offshore wind installations (1.6 GW).

Offshore wind saw the highest rate of growth of the renewable technologies at 19 per cent. This was followed by energy from waste at 15 per cent, anaerobic digestion at 14 per cent, onshore wind at 2.5 per cent, Solar PV at 1.3 and Plant Biomass with an increase of less than 1 per cent.

The UK is currently leading the world in offshore wind in terms of capacity, with over 9.5 GW commissioned and more than 13 GW past the construction consent milestone. In the last twelve months, a number of developments have seen the cost of offshore wind fall and government support behind the technology increase as its looks to cut carbon emissions. Earlier this year, the UK's target for installed offshore wind was raised to 40 GW by 2030.

Last month, the Crown Estate opened the Invitation to Tender (ITT) Stage 1 for Round 4 of its offshore wind leasing programme. Round 4 is expected to facilitate the installation of at least 7 GW of new offshore wind capacity off the coasts of England and Wales. Round 4 was revealed following seven extension projects with a combined capacity of 2.85 GW progressing to the award of rights stage.

In September 2019, the cost of offshore wind dropped around 30%, following the result of the UK government's latest Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction, which provides subsidy support for major renewable energy infrastructure projects. Projects are now being delivered for as low as £39.65/MWh. Successful projects included the
Doggerbank Creyke Beck A, Doggerbank Creyke Beck B, Doggerbank Teeside A, Forthwind,  Seagreen Phase 1 and Sofia offshore wind farms. The cumulative capacity of these awarded projects exceeds 5.4 GW.

As part of the sector deal, signed in March 2019, the government will hold another Contracts for Difference allocation round in 2021, with further auctions approximately every two years. Depending on the price achieved, these auctions will deliver between 1 and 2 GW of offshore wind each year in the 2020s.

For more information on the offshore wind industry in the UK and further afield,
click here.