Last week DW renewables delegates attended the RenewableUK Annual Conference and Exhibition. In wake of the Global Offshore Wind Conference in June, expectations were for an upbeat demonstration of what the UK could provide in terms of world-leading technology and renewable solutions. However, the last few months have been somewhat tumultuous for our renewables industry, with the general feeling among attendees that the government had abandoned the industry at short-notice.
Dealing with what RenewableUK Chief Executive Maria McCaffery noted as an “ideological entrenchment”, the UK renewables industry now has two main points of focus: to maintain current cost-cutting efficiencies in order to make home-grown renewable power more cost-competitive, and to bring the government back on-side. We are on the right path – in some regions onshore wind is becoming competitive with gas and coal whilst solar is also making inroads on the LCoE gap; the main hurdle is in ensuring a strong pipeline, through public and government support. As noted by several speakers throughout the two days, this industry has the potential to secure energy supply, provide jobs and bring investment to the UK.
On display at RenewableUK, new technologies showed just how quickly the industry is developing. The UK offshore wind market, now forecast by DW to reach 11.3GW by 2020, is forcing the supply chain to react and innovate at pace. The use of aviation in the form of both drones and helicopters is part of the next phase of progress, both reducing operational costs and enabling digital inspection of turbines. Helicopters and wind-specific SOVs will see growth in this market, catering to the demands of the huge round three projects which will lie farther offshore; and as our industry matures so will our understanding of best-practice, which will inevitably aid further development.
Celia Hayes, Douglas-Westwood London
+44 1795 594747 or [email protected]