There was an announcement last month by the government to allocate a £557m budget for future Contracts for Difference Auctions ahead of the Clean Growth Pan report. The budget focuses on "less established" technologies such as offshore wind, energy from waste, marine and biomass CHP. This wave of renewable energy funding has been set for 18 months' time so as to build on the dramatic fall in technology costs seen in the latest round of auctions.
While renewable developers compete for a slice of the funding to support new technologies such as offshore wind where costs have halved in recent years, technologies like onshore wind and solar look set to miss out again. 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.
Richard Harrington, the energy minister said the strategy will 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.
Renewable UK said other renewable energy technologies, including onshore wind, could benefit from the same consistent support.
“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.
On the other hand, commenting on the report, James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Renewable Energy Association (REA) said: “The last auction showed what government support and consistency can do for an industry, with offshore wind showing incredible cost reductions. Yet we still find ourselves in a situation where the government will support new nuclear, new gas, new diesel, yet won’t support the most cost-effective technologies such as solar, onshore wind and biomass, which are still blocked to market.”
“The energy market is changing rapidly, with cheaper renewables, a more decentralised grid, smart meters and battery storage driving this revolution. Yet the UK will be left behind globally if the government don’t start supporting the industry and we will be left with a higher cost, higher carbon and out of date system that we will all end up paying for.”