On 7 July, a record amount of renewable energy has been secured through the biggest ever round of the UK government’s flagship auction scheme.
The fourth round of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme has been the most successful ever, securing almost 11 GW across a range of clean technologies, including offshore wind, solar, onshore wind, and – for the first time ever – floating offshore wind and tidal stream – helping to boost British energy security and independence with cleaner, more affordable and diverse energy created in the UK.
CfDs give certainty to project developers to invest in new renewable energy infrastructure by protecting them from volatile wholesale prices. A unique benefit of the CfD scheme is that when wholesale electricity prices are high, as they have been in recent months, generators pay money back into the scheme to reduce the net costs of the scheme to consumers.
The greatest capacity – almost 7 GW – has 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 50 GW of offshore wind ambition by 2030.
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.
Onshore wind and solar energy were both included in a CfD auction for the first time since 2015. Onshore wind secured almost 0.9 GW 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 2.2 GW.
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 41 MW and floating offshore wind returned 32 MW.
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 3 previous rounds combined.
This helps solidify the UK’s role as a world-leader in renewable electricity, driving investment in new, future-proof industries, creating skilled jobs and helping reduce emissions across the country. The results also represent significant progress towards achieving ambitions set out in the British Energy Security Strategy, including for the offshore wind sector alone to support around 90,000 high-skilled jobs across Great Britain by the end of the decade.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng says, “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 11 GW 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. As well as securing a record level of clean electricity generation capacity, the fourth CfD round has delivered energy from a greater number of renewable technologies than ever before, helping to ensure a more secure, more resilient energy system,” Kwarteng continues.
“It is a significant step towards securing a future where Great Britain is powered by cheaper, reliable, homegrown energy, delivering on ambitions laid out in the British Energy Security Strategy. An increase in renewables will drastically reduce the country’s exposure to the volatile global fossil fuel prices that are pushing up energy bills for millions of households” Kwarteng adds.
Energy Minister Greg Hands says, “This fourth round shows the government’s Contracts for Difference 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,” states Hands.
RenewableUK Deputy Chief Executive Melanie Onn says, “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.”
Onn continues, “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.”
“Working closely with government, we need to make this country the most attractive place to invest in. This is particularly important if we want to develop our supply chain in new technologies like floating wind, tidal stream and green hydrogen, in which we can lead the global market and seize the export opportunities this offers,” says Onn.