“If we build less than 10GW by 2020 then that’s a failure for the industry. If we can put a man on the moon, we can build an offshore wind farm in 50 metres of water.”
So said David Parkin, head of offshore renewables at engineering firm Atkins, at a conference yesterday looking at the potential, and barriers, involved in renewable energy expansion.
Speaking with urgency about the opportunities of offshore wind, he said it was clear that renewables targets are very much driving the industry. The UK has a legally binding target to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050.
Jeremy Sainsbury, director of Natural Power, said: “We shouldn’t forget that what we’re building over the next 10 years is the infrastructure not just for 2020, but to deliver for 2050 and beyond. That’s the longevity of the industry we’re building today, if it’s to be a success.”
He stressed that building an infrastructure for decades to come is important not just for energy needs, but also for the UK economy. Mr Sainsbury added: “If we don’t have a system in place, we’ll lose out in a monetary sense later. De-risk it, make it investable. If we’re not competitive we won’t get any of this cash. And that’s before we talk about home-grown competition from nuclear and everything else.”
Mr Parkin voiced his concerns for the usefulness of the UK grid and its capacity for storage: “I don’t know what we’re going to do with 40GW of offshore wind attached to the UK grid. We simply can’t use it for its intermittency, so the big elephant in the room for UK energy is energy storage. Where do we store it? Electric cars in every drive and smart grids… there’s your answer.”