Next renewables auctions to open in 2019
THE next wave of renewable energy funding has been set for 18 months’ time in an attempt to build on the dramatic fall in technology costs seen in the latest round of auctions.
Renewable developers will compete for a slice of £557m to support new energy technologies such as offshore wind where costs have halved in recent years. Wind farms built on remote Scottish islands will also be allowed to vie for funding after ministers agreed to make an exception to the controversial stance against funding onshore wind. Wind farms based on Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles face similar challenges as offshore projects in terms of connecting to the mainland grid, but could supply as much as 3pc of Britain’s electricity demand.
The £557m pot is likely to be staggered over two separate auctions offering a chance for island wind developers, including EDF Energy and SSE, the chance to compete against projects that missed out on the latest auction and are eager to revive applications.
Scottish Power Renewables – the developer arm of the Big Six supplier – dropped out of the running for the last auction in August before it began, saying its East Anglia 2 project off the Suffolk coast would not be ready in
time. Other companies that missed out on contracts in this auction round include marine power developer Atlantis Resources. Its Meygen marine power project in Scotland failed to keep pace with plummeting offshore wind costs in the hard-fought auction.
Ministers fired the starting gun for developers to prepare for the competitive auction ahead of its long-awaited clean growth strategy to be revealed tomorrow. Richard Harrington, the energy minister, said the strategy would set out how the whole of the UK can “benefit from the global move to a low carbon economy”.
“We’ve shown beyond doubt that renewable energy projects are an effective way to cut our emissions, while creating thousands of good jobs and attracting billions of pounds worth of investment,” he said.
The plunging cost of offshore wind in the most recent auction meant more wind farms were able to apply for the £294m funding pot, bringing an investment surge of £17.5bn into the UK.
Renewable UK said other renewable energy technologies, including onshore wind, should benefit from the same. “We need the Government to show the same level of commitment to our cutting-edge wave and tidal energy industries. Innovative floating offshore wind technology also offers new opportunities,” said Hugh McNeal, the trade body’s chief executive.
“Ministers should send a clear signal that they understand the many ways our island nation can tap the enormous and diverse energy resources in our seas, and export these industries globally,” he added.
The Conservative Party pulled subsidies for onshore wind in 2014 but in recent weeks has signalled a potential return for wind turbines.
Mr Harrington and fellow energy minister Claire Perry both told delegates at the Conservative conference that new onshore wind projects could return to play a role depending on whether their costs are competitive and they win the support of local communities. “Provided that it goes through a reasonable local planning system, I see no reason why it should not be on the same level playing field as everything else,” Mr Harrington said.
Richard Harrington, Energy Minister, said onshore wind power should be on the same level playing field as other sources