The former UK minister for energy, Charles Hendry, says the country is in a good position to bring its knowledge of offshore wind power around the world. His comments following more positive news after a report predicted the sector will double in capacity in the UK by 2020.

Speaking at the Global Offshore Wind conference in Glasgow midweek, Hendry (pictured) drew parallels with the country’s oil and gas sector.
Charles Hendry
“UK oil and gas are inexorably in decline yet the companies in Aberdeen and the English northeast continue to do well from the expertise which they export around the world. There is similar scope with regard to our market leader status in offshore wind.”

Hendry, addressing a discussion, entitled ‘Beyond 2020- Offshore Wind in a Competitive Market’ also lauded the deal to establish a Siemens (NYSESI) offshore wind manufacturing facility on the Humber for the huge boost it represents for the sector in Britain.

“There is a difference now in that we confidently answer the question from the public, what’s in it for me? Offshore wind was much harder to sell to constituents when profits went to the foreign owned and were repatriated.”

Jonathan Cole from Scottish Power welcomed recent regulatory clarity but warned that reducing costs remained the key challenge.

“The latest Crown Estate analysis forecasts that by 2020 offshore in the UK will see a doubling of its capacity to 10 GW (10 per cent of the country’s energy demand); so if you’re in the UK the future looks fantastic for the developers, investors and supply chain. There is now a regulatory map in front of us and no other part of the energy sector can see what we can see over the next five years.”

Referring to the ambition the industry has of being produced for less than 10 euro cents per kilowatt hour, Cole added, “Where we need to be is sustainable, self- funding and cutting costs dramatically. If we are not 30 per cent cheaper then there isn’t a future after 2020.”

Siemens plans for the Humber offers the reason for much of the industry’s present enthusiasm and Michael Hannibal, CEO, Offshore, Siemens Wind Power told delegates the clarity provided by the government had been influential in their calculation.

“Predictability is the enabler for things and uncertainty is the killer of making things happen. We hope for a bigger and more predictable market in the UK. There needs to be further investment and another round of investment in the supply chain. (In the short term) there is still a need for some subsidies. But by 2025 we need to be on grid parity and we can be our own driver. To reach that turning point we need more volume to get there.”

In his concluding comments Hendry reminded the audience that the innovation had driven reduced costs so far had been especially quick. “The level of ambition has to be linked to that ability to reduce costs. We have been taken by surprise the way that costs have come down. I was in charge of the taskforce to do this but have seen bigger reductions than had been expected.”

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