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UK Looks To Triple Solar And More Than Quadruple Offshore Wind Power

The UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is set to soon unveil targets to triple solar power capacity, quadruple offshore wind installation, and double onshore wind this decade, as part of boosting energy security and becoming less reliant on foreign energy supplies, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing sources close to the government’s plans.

According to those plans, the UK will target to triple its current solar power capacity to 50 gigawatts (GW) from 14 GW now, more than quadruple offshore wind to 50 GW from 11 GW, and boost onshore wind installations to 30 GW by 2030 from 15 GW now. Boosting nuclear power generation capacity will also feature in the new energy security plan of the UK, which pledged earlier this month to phase out by the end of 2022 Russian oil imports after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

It hasn’t been an easy process to draft an energy security strategy for the long term, an aide told FT, adding that “Discussions are ongoing.”

The UK has targets for offshore wind development, but the solar and onshore capacity installation targets would be the first.

As early as in October 2020, the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the United Kingdom would aim to become a global leader in offshore wind energy, powering every home in the country with wind by 2030.

Despite the UK’s net-zero pledge and its ambitious renewable electricity targets, the country will continue to rely on oil and gas from the North Sea, Johnson said in early February.

After Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February, the UK doubled down on its commitment to net-zero by 2050, but it also reiterated its support for its domestic oil and gas resources.

Earlier this year, industry body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) warned that the UK could become much more vulnerable to price shocks and geopolitical events unless new offshore fields are approved and developed—and the UK’s gas production could plummet by 75 percent by 2030.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • DoRight Deikins on March 29 2022 said:
    Right now (at 2000 UTC, 2022/03/29) the UK is using 26% of its installed wind capacity (6.61GW/25.1GW installed) and is producing 16% of its electricity needs. If it increased that to 80GW installed, that would produce 21.07GW, just more than half of its current electrical needs (35.6GW).

    But the problem is that the electricity needs of the UK will easily double (at a minimum) by 2030 with the increase in use of electricity for heating, for industrial processes, for charging batteries for transportation, for producing green hydrogen, etc.

    And as I have followed the numbers for wind generation, 26% is a little high. It normally hits within a 15 to 20% range of installed capacity utilization. Of course, now it is 8PM in the evening in the UK and there is no solar generation. On the other hand, electrical power demand has dropped significantly from the daylight hours.

    But the biggest problem is that it is never talked about how much this increased 'free' generation capacity is going to cost or (the capital cost and the ROI). It is currently heavily subsidized by the taxpayer in order to entice the private sector to participate. And the maintenance costs of the wind turbine capacity is not well documented. My guess is that once it is found that turbine maintenance is more dangerous than coal mining, that the labor and insurance costs will 'sky rocket'.

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