A major offshore wind developer has thrown into doubt the huge expansion of sea-based turbines, which the government is relying on to keep the lights on for the rest of the decade.
Paul Coffey, chief operating officer at RWE’s renewable energy division Innogy, said: “Offshore wind is the only technology that can be developed at scale, with gas, to address the looming capacity need. But we are not in a place to see large-scale deployment of offshore wind. It would be very difficult to move ahead with the terms on the table.
“We can’t invest on promises and a lack of clarity and we are running out of time for offshore wind.”
He blamed changes to the subsidies for offshore turbines and uncertainties caused by the fierce political row over energy policy. The controversy over rising energy bills intensified on Thursday as British Gas hiked its prices by 9.2% and chancellor George Osborne announced that Chinese state companies will be able to run nuclear reactors in the UK. So-called green taxes, which support renewable energy and tackle fuel poverty through efficiency measures, have been at the heart of the argument, with some calling for them to be slashed.
“The next six months are critical,” said Coffey, “but politicians are treating the issue as a political football to beat up the utility companies.”
Energy ninister Michael Fallon said: “The UK is recognised as one of the most attractive locations in the world for offshore wind investment. The UK is committed to developing more offshore wind now and in the future as it’s a major energy resource on our doorstep. The reforms we’re making are designed to bring forward technologies such as offshore wind, where the costs are front loaded.” He added that the more costs fall, the more offshore wind will be deployed.