Photo: Illustration/Hornsea One offshore wind farm (Photo courtesy of Ørsted)

UK to add almost 11GW of clean energy capacity as it moves away from fossil fuels

The biggest ever round of UK government’s flagship renewables auction scheme has secured record capacity of almost 11GW of clean energy, to be delivered across a range of clean technologies, including offshore wind, solar, onshore wind, and for the first time ever – floating wind and tidal energy.

The Hornsea One offshore wind farm in the UK, built by Ørsted
Illustration/Hornsea One offshore wind farm (Photo courtesy of Ørsted)

The fourth round of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme will provide enough clean energy to power around 12 million British homes with, helping to reduce the country’s exposure to volatile global prices.

The greatest capacity – almost 7GWhas been secured from new offshore wind projects around the coastline of Great Britain, enough to increase the country’s overall capacity built and under construction by 35% and take a significant step towards meeting the government’s 50GW of offshore wind ambition by 2030.

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The competitive nature of the scheme has continued to place downward pressure on prices – the per unit (MWh) price of offshore wind secured in this round is almost 70% less than that secured in the first allocation round, in 2015.

The fourth round also saw developing technologies tidal stream and floating offshore wind projects successful for the first time. Tidal stream returned a capacity of 41MW and floating offshore wind returned 32MW.

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Onshore wind and solar energy were both included in a CfD auction for the first time since 2015, with onshore wind securing almost 0.9GW of new capacity, clearing at a per unit price that was more than 45% lower than in the first CfD round in 2015, while solar secured more than 2.2GW.

Overall, 93 projects with existing planning permission across England, Scotland and Wales have won contracts through the competitive auction process, which is more than in all three previous rounds combined.

UK’s business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Eye-watering gas prices are hitting consumers across Europe. The more cheap, clean power we generate within our own borders, the better protected we will be from volatile gas prices that are pushing up bills.

“Thanks to today’s record renewable energy auction, we have secured almost 11GW of clean, home-grown electricity – which would provide as much power as around 6 gas fired power stations.

“These energy projects already have planning permission, now they have a funding contract in place. We’re going to these projects built as soon as possible to better protect millions of British families from rising costs.”

Greg Hands, UK’s energy minister, said: “This fourth round shows the government’s CfD scheme continues to be a roaring success. Not only has it secured a record capacity of clean electricity, it ensures the UK will have a future powered by a resilient and diverse supply of homegrown energy by bringing forward a greater range of renewable technologies than ever before.”

The government’s British Energy Security Strategy set out how Great Britain will accelerate the deployment of renewable technologies, with an ambition to see 95% of electricity being low carbon by 2030. The strategy also set out an increased ambition for the number of clean jobs in the UK by supporting 90,000 in offshore wind by 2030.

Welcoming the announcement, Melanie Onn, RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive, said: “Today’s record-breaking auction results show that there is a way to replace unaffordable gas with low-cost clean power generated by a wide range of renewable technologies led by wind, both offshore and onshore. Thanks to the rapid construction times of new onshore wind and solar sites, billpayers will start to feel the benefits of today’s auction next year.

“The auction also showed that the UK is maintaining its position as a world-leader in innovative renewable energy technologies like tidal stream and floating wind, which will both play an increasingly significant role in our transition to clean power to meet our net zero goal.”


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