This summer’s Contracts for Difference auctions offer energy ministers a unique opportunity to double Britain’s offshore wind capacity, new research from lobbyists RenewableUK claims.

The trade body’s latest EnergyPulse Insights Offshore Wind report reveals that 14 wind farms are already eligible to bid into this year’s CfD auctions. Together they can provide nearly 10.3GW of new capacity.

Known as Allocation Round 6, the auctions take place over the summer.  Last year the government’s notorious failure to raise the scheme’s administrative strike price resulted in no offshore bids being made.

Previous records permitting new offshore turbines were set in 2022 when 8.5GW was eligible across seven projects.

In addition to this year’s 10.3GW of already qualifying marine projects, a further 4.7GW of new offshore capacity –  out of 8.7GW already in the planning system – could become eligible, before applications open for AR6 in late March.

If these projects were to receive government consent, the report calculates that a total 14.9GW of offshore wind capacity would be eligible for this year’s auction.

Being eligible does not mean that projects will choose to bid in to AR6, the report notes. But they have the potential to do so.

The 14.9GW of potential new capacity this year exceeds 14.7GW of fully operational turbines already spinning off around Britain.  That marine base currently generates 14% of the nation’s entire electricity needs.

A benchmark single gigawatt of offshore turbines generates enough electricity to run just over a million British homes for a year, according to the lobby group.

RenewableUK’s latest EnergyPulse Insights shows too that a further 5.2GW is already under construction in UK waters. Nearly 45GW could be fully operational by the end of 2030.

During March D-ESNZ is due to set out AR6’s budget and parameters for this summer’s  auction,

That timeline is leading RenewableUK to call for ministers to aim high, and maximise the amount of capacity Britain can secure.

Turbines generating now in the world’s oceans have risen 12.5% in the past twelve months alone, the report reveals.   Britain ranks second globally, that 14.7GW operating capacity sandwiching us between China’s 34.7GW and Germany’s 8.3GW. The graph shows the world’s top nine coastal generating nations.

In terms of the body’s estimate of 1,078GW of marine farms now in development, the global triad is similar.  China is top with 195.5GW, the UK second at 99.5GW and Sweden third with 85GW.

RenewableUK’s chief executive Dan McGrail said: “The government has a unique cha chance to strengthen UK energy security, with a record number of new offshore wind farms eligible to bid.

“We’re urging ministers to be ambitious when they set out the auction budget and parameters next month”.

Details of the EnergyPulse report are available to RenewableUK members here.


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