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Tue, 1 December 2020

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How can the UK achieve the 2030 Offshore Wind Target?

How can the UK achieve the 2030 Offshore Wind Target?

Credit: Ørsted

Duncan Clark, Head of UK Region | Ørsted

4 min read Partner content

Tackling climate change through renewable energy is vital to prevent catastrophic damage to our oceans, protect biodiversity and ensure the future health of our planet.

Just a few weeks ago I was standing on the docks in Grimsby as the first foundations for what will become the world’s largest wind farm were installed offshore at Hornsea Two, which will supply enough clean power for more than 1.3 million UK homes.

It was a moment of personal reflection for me, having watched as the UK’s first ever offshore wind turbine was installed less than 20 years ago.

It is quite phenomenal how engineering skill and political will have come together to create such a step change in how we produce our electricity. 

Through the darker days of this pandemic I have been heartened by the Prime Minister’s vows to Build Back Greener, in recognition of the pivotal role a low-carbon economy will play in driving both economic recovery and resilience for the future.

I applaud the Scottish Government’s commitment to reach net zero by 2045 and believe the UK Government’s bold 40GW ambition for 2030 is achievable.

In fact, here at Ørsted, we believe 100GW or more could be achieved by 2050, delivered sustainably whilst minimising our impact on the marine environment.

Tackling climate change through renewable energy is vital to prevent catastrophic damage to our oceans, protect biodiversity and ensure the future health of our planet.

The UK Government has already made strong commitments to the growth of the industry, which has flourished thanks to a stable policy regime and continued support from successive governments.  

The urgency of our climate emergency must be met not only by bold targets, but also by meaningful progress.

The offshore wind industry has the technology and is certainly capable of delivering on the UK Government’s ambitions for offshore wind.

However, there is a pressing need to address some regulatory and technical barriers to achieve an accelerated level of deployment whilst properly protecting our precious marine biodiversity and ecosystems.

It’s crucial that governments, industry, environmental bodies and organisations such as National Grid, Ofgem and The Crown Estate all continue to work together closely to ensure a clear route forward to deploy offshore wind at the required level.

A renewed commitment to drive innovation within the sector will prove critical to maintaining confidence in the supply chain and encouraging future investment.

Emerging technologies, such as renewable hydrogen, hold remarkable potential as a green energy source capable of large-scale decarbonisation of industry, heat and heavy transport.

While producing hydrogen has historically been associated with high carbon emissions, using renewable electricity, such as from an offshore wind farm, can completely decarbonise the production process. The sector is already powering ahead with a number of renewable hydrogen projects, and to support the UK’s development and deployment of the technology, a robust pipeline of offshore wind capacity is a must.

Ørsted is committed to invest in renewable hydrogen projects heading into construction as early as next year. Our involvement in Gigastack, a project aimed at showing how renewable hydrogen could support the UK’s net-zero 2050 GHG emission target, attests to this.

But if the UK is to maintain its current lead in offshore renewable energy production, continued sustainable deployment of windfarms and support for early-scale projects is needed now.

That doesn’t necessarily call for enormous investments in renewable hydrogen today, but the country does need the right policy framework in place to stimulate both pace and scale of innovation and attract investors in the long term.

Human wellbeing depends on reducing global carbon emissions.

The potential impacts of climate change on our seas must not be understated.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in September 2019 outlining ocean warming and acidification as a result of increased carbon emissions and heat from global warming. The ocean absorbs a quarter of carbon emissions and 90% of excess heat.

Carefully considered offshore wind projects, which respect important local environmental and social interests, will be vital in our ongoing fight to mitigate this threat.

We have come so far, but we have much further to go. The urgency of our climate emergency must be met not only by bold targets, but also by meaningful progress.

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