UK well provided with renewable energy sources, finds study

The UK could meet its electricity needs five times over using offshore renewables, according to a report funded by government departments and energy companies

The Offshore Valuation study, written by Boston Consulting and released on Wednesday, is being marketed as the most comprehensive study into the UK’s potential offshore wind, wave and tidal resource.

It says offshore renewables could practically provide 2,131 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity a year – more than five times the current UK demand of about 400TWh.

However, the report contains three scenarios for how offshore renewables could develop to 2050 and these would only realise 13-78% of that resource.

The first scenario sees 78 gigawatts of peak capacity offshore renewables installed by 2050, enough to provide 44% of UK electricity needs.

This is not much beyond current plans. The Crown Estate has already awarded licences for 49GW of offshore wind ( ENDS Report Bulletin, 13 May), and 1.2GW of wave and tidal projects (ENDS Report 422, p 17).

The other two scenarios see 169GW and 406GW of offshore renewables installed. However, both of these scenarios are dependent on a European-wide electricity grid being developed and the UK exporting much of the electricity produced.

The report says the UK itself cannot get more than 50% of its electricity from variable renewables like wind.

  • Also on Wednesday, the Scottish Government issued a consultation on a strategic environmental assessment and development plan for offshore wind. This says there are no significant environmental barriers to developing the 10 offshore wind projects already underway in Scottish waters. It also identifies 25 other sites suitable for offshore wind.
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