SWIFT POLICY CHANGES ARE CRUCIAL TO POWERING OFFSHORE WIND GOALS

Published date06 May 2022
Publication titleBusiness Insider
"We will be the Saudi Arabia of wind power, with the ambition that by 2030 over half our renewables generation capacity will be wind, with the added benefit of high skilled jobs abounding these shores,"the Prime Minister enthused

The plan sets lofty goals, however they will need to be backed up by some detailed process changes to achieve the scale of offshore wind delivery required.

The UK Government recognises in its strategy that to achieve the desired rebalancing of the UK's energy mix, the rate of offshore wind development and deployment must speed up dramatically. If future projects progress at the glacial pace of the current crop then prices will continue to go up and the lights may well go out.

So where are the opportunities to speed things up? Consenting and grid seem like a sensible place to start.

The plan proposes to reduce the time required to obtain an offshore wind project consent - a Development Consent Order (DCO) - to one year from the point of application (it takes approximately 17 months currently when things work properly). This would provide a major boost to the pipeline of projects flowing from The Crown Estate's Round 3 Extension and Round 4 offshore seabed licensing rounds as they gear up to request project consent.

However, there is no specific detail on how the UK Government plans to shave seven months off a process that is already consistently failing to deliver on time. The need for a much stronger policy steer for examining panels, decision-makers and statutory consultees, and for the provision of strategic solutions to environmental barriers, are highlighted in the plan. If government can strengthen policy support and, importantly, remove the lengthy habitat/bird compensation discussions from project examinations, it should be possible to reduce the DCO...

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