SSE calls for market reform and offshore grid to hit net zero


The UK will not meet its offshore wind targets without urgent action from Whitehall and Holyrood administrations, SSE Renewables has warned.

Director of capital projects Paul Cooley says business as usual from government is “not an option” if it wants to reach 40GW by 2030.

The firm, which alongside Equinor is constructing the 3.6GW Dogger Bank project and has a 7GW offshore pipeline, has mapped out an action plan.

Market reform and offshore grid

SSE said market reform is required given the risk that negative power prices pose to investors. It urged government to start designing a new framework via the White Paper expected this year.

It said CfD rounds are required every year, instead of every two years, avoiding costs associated with rushes and bottlenecks.

Lowering barriers to planning consent are also high on the developer’s list. EU regulations on wildlife conservation add complexity to securing consent for offshore locations, argues SSE.

Clearer derogation from Brussels’ Habitat Directive, plus initiatives in strategic planning from the UK and Scottish governments can restore simplicity, while guaranteeing effective protection of species, the plan suggests.

Meanwhile, an offshore grid will be required, rather than piecemeal connections. Anticipatory grid investment will be needed, per the plan.

Government should also create a framework for floating offshore wind, which will be required to hit the 2030 target and beyond said SSE. However, the firm said the framework  must recognise it will not be able to compete with fixed bottom turbines.

“We need vital enabling actions to meet this new 2030 target,” said Cooley. “If we fail to remove the barriers to deployment now, we risk failing in the nation’s wider goals”.

The Committee on Climate Change states that 75GW of offshore generation may be needed by 2050, if the Uk is to meet net zero.

See SSE’s roadmap here.

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  1. The only energy storage technology to ‘save’ renewables by most definitely solving the ‘intermittency problem’, is green-hydrogen from electrolysis. The well financed and ultra powerful NGOs and lobbyists behind renewables will ensure Government thinking starts to move in this direction very soon.

    I’ve made a stab at a possible combination of renewables that would be required by 2050, to supply all of the energy the UK uses – 4,029 TWh. The starting point is a good chunk of biomass as the necessary, but maybe interim, base load source and then splitting the balance as 10% solar; 30% onshore wind; 60% offshore wind.

    Offshore wind needed would be 432 GW, using 36,000 x 12 MW Haliade-Xs at 53.2% capacity factor. The capital cost would be £1,080 billion (minus the £9 billion going into Dogger Bank A: B: C). So from 2030, another 392 GW would be needed by 2050; that’s 19.6 GW per year at a capital cost of £53.55 billion per year.

    I’ve done a 2 part report on capital costs and environmental impact on my website, with part 3 out soon, on materials use and waste streams.


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