The UK’s Net Zero system looks incredibly complex, with our energy being generated by: intermittent renewables contributing 58%, combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) with carbon capture storage (CCS) at 22%, nuclear 11%, bioenergy with CCS 6%, and others 3%.
Intermittent renewables mean primarily offshore wind, and at 58%, it clearly has an important role to play, but we must be realistic about the challenges and cost to consumer.
Offshore wind is a success story in the UK, and government intervention in this market aided this success with massive support to initiate early projects. Without this, no offshore wind projects would have been built.
To meet 2050 targets, we need to deliver an unprecedented build rate of energy infrastructure – between 9 to 12GW built a year, every year, for the next 30 years. The UK currently has no CCS capacity, nor a hydrogen production industry. Without these, without major capital energy projects, and a coordinated approach, we will never reach 2050.
The increase in offshore wind generation required is seen as 30GW by 2030, and 75GW by 2050. Feasible? Yes, but understandably with its challenges. The industry enjoyed a rapid technology advancement, due to cross-sector skills from the oil and gas industry, but as turbines get bigger, infrastructure needs to be sturdier, and winds are stronger further out to sea.