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Technological Innovations and Climate Change: Offshore Wind inquiry launched

6 April 2020

The Environmental Audit Committee launches inquiry considering how British innovation could hold the key to tackling climate change, with an early focus on offshore wind

The UK has taken a leading role in the development and deployment of some low-carbon technologies, but the Committee on Climate Change has already identified a number of technologies, such as nuclear, which have fallen short of expectations on performance or cost.

The first session of the inquiry, Technological Innovation and Climate Change, will look at offshore wind power. The UK has the largest market in the world for offshore wind, and over the past 10 years, wind power has grown rapidly due to reductions in the costs of constructing and operating wind power facilities.

Every year the UK has seen a steady increase in the amount of electricity being generated by wind power, with statistics for 2019 showing a 3% increase to 20%.

Following the Government’s Offshore Wind Sector Deal in March 2019, the Committee will consider the opportunities that will maximise the industry’s potential, and that challenges it faces in delivering greater capacity.

The inquiry launch follows latest estimates that the UK is expected to exceed the target set out in the third Carbon Budget due to phasing out coal and moving towards renewable energy sources. However, it is expected that the fourth and fifth Carbon Budgets will be much more challenging to meet, and the need for innovation will be of greater significance.

Chair's comments

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Philip Dunne MP, said:

“From wind to tidal, solar to hydrogen, there are scientists and engineers who are at the cutting edge of unearthing what could be part of the solution to a greener future. Supporting these innovators and industries is crucial if the UK is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“During this inquiry, my Committee will be considering a number of different technological innovations and whether the Government is grasping this potential and offering the support they need to succeed.

“The first area we will be looking at will be offshore wind, which is already contributing significantly to UK electricity generation, and I look forward to learning how we can make an even bigger success of this industry.”

Terms of reference

The Committee is inviting written submissions to inform its first session on offshore wind. Submissions should be submitted through the Committee’s web portal, and should focus on, but not be limited to:

  • How effective has the Government’s offshore wind Sector Deal been in moving the sector towards becoming an integral part of a low-cost, low-carbon, flexible grid system and boosting the productivity and competitiveness of the UK supply chain?
  • What level of output can the sector deliver in the UK, and what Government support would be needed to achieve this?
  • How might the UK take advantage of further technological advances in offshore wind technology, particularly in relation to floating arrays?
  • What support does the sector require to keep pace with the most cutting-edge innovations, such as in blade technology?
  • What is the UK industry doing to promote the sustainability of offshore wind arrays throughout their entire life-cycle from development through to decommissioning, and to improve maintenance and end-of-life repair?
  • How well is the UK industry managing the environmental and social impacts of offshore wind installations, particularly on coastal communities with transmission-cable landing sites?
  • How well is Government policy supporting innovation in transmission technology to improve the efficiency of electricity transmission?
  • Looking to the future, what can the onshore wind sector learn from the offshore success story?

Details on formal evidence sessions will be announced in due course.

Further information

Image: Rob Farrow/Offshore windfarm Skegness/Wikimedia Commons