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Are We Set For Subsidy-Free Renewable Power?

Posted: 07/04/2018

With the price of renewable energy falling in recent years, it has become a much more popular and viable way of generating power. Now, a new report has suggested that the UK could see subsidy-free renewables coming to the market over the next 12 years.

According to a report from Aurora Energy Research, the UK is “on the cusp of a breakthrough” in this area, and has the potential to generate 18GW of subsidy-free renewable energy by 2030. Throughout north-west Europe, this figure is expected to by 60GW.

In the UK, solar and onshore wind have been highlighted as the first renewable energy sources to be used for subsidy-free projects, although elsewhere in Europe there have been subsidy-free offshore wind schemes too.

Germany and the Netherlands have both seen offshore wind projects developed without any government support, while Sweden recently announced a 650MW power purchase agreement-backed onshore wind scheme.

Research from Aurora predicts that in the UK, solar and onshore wind generation will obtain grid parity by the early 2020s, while for offshore wind this will take a little longer, but will still be achieved by the end of the 2020s or early 2030s.

Speaking at the firm’s Spring Forum, analyst Mateusz Wronski said that the rise of subsidy-free renewable energy in the UK will be “a true game changer for the energy industry and policy makers, with a knock-on effect on baseload technologies as well as flexible generation”.

With more and more private investment pouring into the sector, companies will need to understand that working in remote and offshore locations presents new hazards and a greater level of risk. When your team are working offshore, there is a greater need to deliver effective responses to emergencies and medical situations.

For offshore wind, this means ensuring they have all had GWO working at heights training as well as having capabilities in advanced rescue (potentially undertaking simulated offshore rescue drills) and also being trained to deliver advanced trauma and Intermediate emergency care for offshore and remote areas.   

Business Green recently highlighted the latest subsidy-free offshore wind project to be awarded in Europe, pointing to Vattenfall’s successful bid to develop two 350MW zones set out by the Dutch government.

In total, this will mean that the projects will generate 700MW of power, which is enough to power one million homes in the Netherlands.

The nation’s minister of economic affairs Eric Wiebes told the publication that “innovation and competition are making sustainable energy cheaper and cheaper, and much faster than expected too”.

He added: “Thanks to drastically lower costs, offshore wind farms are now being constructed without subsidy.”

Senior Vice President, business area wind at Vattenfall, Gunnar Groebler added that his organisation is “very happy to enlarge our contribution in making the Dutch energy system more sustainable”.

The speed with which the sustainable energy market is evolving is certainly encouraging, especially given the commitment that many governments have made in recent years to reducing their emissions.

While the UK still has some way to go to catch up to other parts of north-west Europe, it is making great strides. A report from Imperial College London and Drax published earlier this year found that half of the country’s power was produced from low-carbon sources at stages during 2017.