Global menu

Our global pages

Close

Creating the Saudi Arabia of Wind

  • United Kingdom
  • Real estate
  • Real estate sector

28-10-2020

It’s 2030, the global pandemic has long since passed, and you have just arrived home after a tortuous drive through rush hour traffic, put the kettle on, and received the customary grunt of acknowledgement from the kids, eyes glued to whatever they’re streaming through their current device of choice.

Nothing new in that you might think, but you’d be wrong. This is the green industrial age and each one of these domestic demands for electricity will be powered by offshore wind: from your electric car to the switch on every smart domestic appliance and the charging needs of your family’s plethora of phones and tablets. And not just your family’s energy needs because, if the Prime Minister’s recent ambitious announcement is fulfilled, the energy needs of every single household in the UK will be met in exactly the same way.

It will take 40 gigawatts of offshore wind power to achieve this energy revolution, a significant step up from the 10 gigawatts that is currently operational. Encouragingly, a further 10 gigawatts is also already committed for future deployment, but achieving the target will require roughly 3,000 additional wind turbines to be built in waters around the UK. That’s a lot of turbines.

Ten years is also a very short time when you consider that the project life-cycle includes:

 

• an auction by the Crown Estate of the relevant development rights;

• negotiating of the complex leases;

• a consenting stage balancing the protection of environmental and third party interests with project deliverability;

• a Contract for Difference auction process;

• financial close;

• final scheme design and discharge of consent conditions;

• acquisition of the required onshore land interests;

• procurement; and

• ultimately, a complex construction operation.

 

And that’s without building in a contingency for the usual contortions of politics, the economy and (those familiar enemies of big projects) unexpected events.

This level of deployment in such a short space of time will require developers, environmental stakeholders, Government departments and other marine users to all pull in the same direction. It’s a fine balance, and this year has already seen one project rejected by Government due to impacts on navigation interests, another pushed back due to potential effects on protected bird species, and a third delayed by a legal challenge to the grant of consent. Given that future projects will be planned for similar locations, something will definitely have to give if everyone’s ambitions are to be achieved.

Nevertheless, having been involved in the UK offshore wind sector for over 10 years, it is clear that there is now a widespread recognition that a large part of “Building Back Greener” will involve a substantial contribution from new offshore wind, and more importantly there is a desire and level of constructive engagement to make it happen.

The realisation of these projects will also require substantial investment. Eversheds Sutherland recently conducted a survey to the major banks and funds financing renewables that further highlights the willingness to realise this next step which can be found here ES Survey.

The opportunities are there for all to see: environmental benefits of renewable power generation, security of energy supply, and the creation of a world leading industry generating jobs contributing to economic recovery. We should all seize this moment and help the process along the way.

 

Get in touch: