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26 February 2024
Renewable Energy

RenewableUK Report: UK Poised to Double Offshore Wind Capacity in This Year’s Auction

A new report recently published by RenewableUK shows that the Government has an opportunity to secure a record number of new offshore wind farms, and record amount of new capacity, in this year's auction for contracts to generate clean power (Contracts for Difference). In a huge boost to the UK’s energy security, the Government has the potential to double the country’s offshore wind capacity in this year’s auction alone.

RenewableUK’s latest EnergyPulse Insights Offshore Wind report reveals that 14 wind farms are already eligible to bid into this year’s CfD auction (Allocation Round 6), providing nearly 10.3 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity. The previous records were set in 2022 when 8.5GW was eligible across 7 projects.

In addition to this, a further 4.7GW of new offshore wind capacity (out of 8.7GW in the planning system) could become eligible before applications open for AR6 at the end of March. If these projects were to receive consent from the Government, 14.9GW of offshore wind capacity would be eligible for this year’s auction. The report notes that being eligible does not mean that projects will choose to bid in – but they have the potential to do so.

To put this 14.9GW of potential new capacity into context, we currently have 14.7GW of fully operational offshore wind which generates 14% of the UK’s entire electricity needs. Just one gigawatt of offshore wind generates enough electricity to power over a million British homes for a year.

The report also shows that a further 5.2GW are already under construction in UK waters, and it forecasts that nearly 45GW could be fully operational by the end of 2030.

The Government is due to set out the overall budget and parameters for this summer’s auction next month, so RenewableUK is calling for Ministers to aim high to maximise the amount of capacity we can secure. Offshore wind is one of the UK’s cheapest sources of new power and is vital in boosting our energy security and independence from expensive imported power.

The report also shows that global operational offshore wind capacity has reached over 70GW for the first time (70.2GW), up from 62.3GW at this time last year, a 12.5% increase in 12 months. The top countries in terms of installed capacity are China (34.7GW), the UK (14.7GW), and Germany (8.3GW), as this graph shows:

The report includes a summary of global offshore wind activity in 2023, in which 7.6GW of capacity went fully operational globally, whilst over 21GW reached a final investment decision. 68% of capacity which went fully operational in 2023 was in two markets – China (4.1GW) and the UK (1.1GW).

The global total pipeline of projects in all stages of development (operational, under construction, consented, in the planning system or in early development) now stands at 1,078GW across 1,461 projects in 41 countries; China is top with 195.5GW, the UK second at 99.5GW and Sweden third with 85GW:

The report forecasts that total global capacity could reach over 340GW by the end of 2030 – almost a fivefold increase from today, with 46% of this capacity in Chinese waters.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Dan McGrail said:

“Our latest EnergyPulse report highlights the enormous opportunity which the Government has to strengthen the UK’s energy security, with a record number of new offshore wind farms eligible to bid into this year’s clean power auction, and a record amount of new capacity. As offshore wind farms are one of our cheapest sources of new power for billpayers, we’re urging Ministers to be ambitious when they set out the auction budget and parameters next month. If this is done in the right way, we can secure billions in private investment, driving the growth of the UK’s offshore wind supply chain and new jobs in the sector.”

“The report also shows that offshore wind is ramping up worldwide at an astonishing pace – and that despite fierce global competition, the UK continues to be a world leader in this vital technology. In this year’s auction, we have the potential to prove again that Britain is one of the best places to invest in new offshore wind projects”.

The 14 UK offshore wind projects which are currently eligible to bid into AR6 are:

Norfolk Vanguard West and Norfolk Vanguard East (2,760MW)

Hornsea Four (2,600MW)

Awel y Môr (1,100MW)

East Anglia TWO (900MW)

East Anglia ONE North (800MW)

Hornsea Three (753.1MW)

Seagreen 1A (500MW)

East Anglia THREE (318MW)

Inch Cape (270MW)

Pentland (floating project) (100MW)

Erebus (floating project) (100MW)

Blyth 2 (floating project) (58MW)

Forthwind (test and demonstration site) (8MW)

Total: 10,267MW

More details about our EnergyPulse report, which are available to RenewableUK members, are available here

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