Installation appeal

Call to cut planning time to hit offshore target

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Offshore installation must speed up says OEUK

Installation of offshore wind turbines must double or even treble if the UK is to meet a key target by 2030, according to a new report.

Achieving a four-fold increase in offshore renewable energy in the next eight years will mean accelerating planning consent times from four years to one and a cut in red tape.

A study from Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) has found that nearly half the offshore wind projects needed to reach the government’s 2030 target are only at concept stage.

Such projects typically take 13-plus years to move from concept to operation, many far longer, largely due to delays in government planning and approval processes. It means the UK is at risk of missing the target unless installations accelerate.

It comes just days after Boris Johnson, the outgoing Prime Minister, highlighted the importance of offshore wind to the UK’s future energy supplies. “Offshore wind is now nine times cheaper than gas,” he said in a speech on Thursday.

The findings will be contained in OEUK’s Economic Report: Managing UK Energy Security in Troubled Times, due for publication on Wednesday. 

It will take a detailed look at the UK’s energy security landscape, including gas, oil, and offshore wind, pointing our new government to the nation’s key strengths and vulnerabilities.

At the moment the UK gets 19% of its total energy as electricity but demand is projected to increase by 50% by 2035 as electric vehicles replace petrol and diesel ones, and heat pumps replace domestic boilers. 

Many of the companies producing oil and gas are the same ones investing in renewable energy and delivering the critical supply chain work needed to build offshore wind projects. 

Offshore wind will also play a crucial role in generating clean electricity to power offshore platforms – sharply cutting the emissions from UK oil and gas production.

OEUK said the challenge of such an expansion is huge. It means the UK will need to install an estimated 3,200 new, and much larger, wind turbines by 2030 – roughly three new turbines every two days.

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Ross Dornan, lead author of the report, said: “As of late August, OEUK knew of around 40 projects planned through to 2030 at various stages of the development cycle. Based on this pipeline, the Energy Security Strategy target is potentially achievable, but it is important to understand the associated project uncertainties and risks. 

“This scale of installation is very ambitious, and it will require significant improvements to the regulatory and permitting process. Of the potential capacity additions before 2030, 46% (almost 18.5 GW) is only at concept stage, 

“History shows that it takes around 13 years to progress from concept and application stage through to operations. This means that the UK’s 50 GW ambitions will only be achieved if this can be sped up.”

OEUK’s Economic Report will call on the UK’s new government to implement four key measures from its Energy Security Strategy to boost the rate of offshore wind installations.

  1. Cut planning consent times from four years to one.
  2. Streamline the Environmental Assessment process
  3. Cut red tape using the government’s Offshore Wind Acceleration Task Force
  4. Create a fast-track planning process for non-controversial projects

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