Energy Sector:Offshore Wind, Hydrogen
Category:Countries with Cooperation Agreements
The UK is almost halfway to ending its domestic contribution to climate change thanks to the efforts of successive governments, and in 2019, the UK became the first major economy in the world to set a binding target for net zero emissions by 2050.
In 2022, the British Government developed the Net Zero Strategy, setting out policies and proposals for decarbonizing all sectors of the UK economy as an effort to meet the net zero target.
Key policies for the power sector, fuel supply and hydrogen include:
- fully decarbonization of the power system by 2035
- 50 GW of offshore wind, including 5 GW floating offshore wind by 2030
- 5 GW of hydrogen production capacity by 2030
- Launching additional public fund and mobilizing private investment
- Providing support for creating new jobs
In the first quarter of 2023, renewables fuelled around 48% of the UK’s electricity generation. Renewables are bringing an unprecedented opportunity for the UK to build back greener and level up the country with new skilled, high-wage jobs and rebuild better from the pandemic.
Offshore wind has been a successful story for the UK’s energy sector, mainly enabled by the political vision. With 13.9 GW of offshore wind fully commissioned at over 40 wind farms, today the UK secures its top spot in the European offshore wind industry. There is also a project pipeline of around 77 GW across 80 offshore projects that are either in construction, in development or planned in future seabed leasing auctions.
The continued investment and technology innovation also reinforce the UK as a world leader in offshore wind. For instance, the UK is among the first European countries which has a technology innovation and research center for offshore renewable energy (Catapult). It uses its unique facilities, research, and engineering capabilities to bring together industry and academia to drive innovation and commercialization in renewable energy. Most recently, the first digital autonomous and robotics engineering center (DARE) has been opened at the Catapult. The DARE center is a first-of-its-kind and will provide developers, researchers, and industry with the opportunity to test, demonstrate and commercialize innovative digital and robotic products and services for the offshore renewable energy market.
The UK’s offshore wind market is also underpinned by its commercially mature auction design. Contracts for Difference (CfD) is the UK’s government main support mechanism for low-carbon electricity generation.
In April 2023, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway and the UK joined the Ostend Declaration which recalls the declaration on the North Sea as a Green Power Plant of Europe in Esbjerg signed by the energy ministers of Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands in May 2022. The nine countries aim to more than double the total 2030 capacity of offshore wind 120 GW to 300 GW by 2050. With the scope of the political agreement, a number of bilateral deals were signed on the sidelines. For instance, the UK and Germany will work together to identify potentials for hybrid cooperation projects for offshore wind generation and interconnection on the North Sea. The UK and the Netherlands agreed to build a multi-purpose interconnector “Lionlink” to enable cross-border electricity transmission and trade between the two countries. This project is regarded first step towards integrated North Sea grid.
Sofia Offshore Wind Farm
The 1.4 GW Sofia Offshore Wind Farm consisting of 100 Siemens Gamesa wind turbines, sited on the shallow central area of the North Sea known as Dogger Bank, is the largest offshore wind project in RWE's current portfolio.
The project is now under construction and is being carried out in close collaboration with suppliers, stakeholders, statutory bodies, and the authorities. The sheer scale and size of the Sofia Offshore Wind Farm will offer significant economic opportunities for the UK, with potential supply chain benefits, infrastructure and associated jobs and contracts.
The Sofia Offshore Wind Farm is expected to be fully operational in 2026.
Hornsea 2 Offshore Wind Farm
The Hornsea 2 offshore wind farm by Ørsted has been fully operational since August 2022. The 1.3 GW project comprises 165 wind turbines, located 89 km off the Yorkshire Coast, which supply more than 1.4 million UK homes with green electricity.
The wind farm is situated alongside its sibling Hornsea 1, which together can power 2.5 million homes. The Hornsea zone, an area of the North Sea covering more than 2,000 km2, is also set to include Hornsea 3. The 2.8 GW project is planned to follow Hornsea 2 which has been awarded a contract for difference from the UK government earlier this year.
The wind farm spans an area of 464 km which is equal to more than 64,000 football fields. Each wind turbine blade is 81m long and the blade tip reaches more than 200 m above sea level. One revolution of the wind turbine blades can power an average UK home for 24 hours.