More clarity is needed over Energy Bill, say North-East renewables industry

First published in Business News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy Business Editor

DELAYS in setting carbon emissions targets could jepordise post-2020 investment in offshore wind, a group representing the North-East renewable sector has said.

While Energi Coast said the upcoming Energy Bill and its promise to provide £7.6bn towards low carbon electricity infrastructure by 2020 will inject confidence into the offshore wind sector, the organisation warned that delaying setting carbon targets until after the election may impact large, long-term projects which will still be under construction in eight years’ time.

The decision to publish the long-awaited bill in full next week has been welcomed by investors, many of who have delayed decisions about putting money into offshore wind projects.

Supply chain business, many of which have been poised to support the next stage of Round 2, Round 2.5 and early Round 3 UK wind farms, have also welcomed the news.

Energi Coast, which represents 24 North-East firms, also welcomed the confirmation that the Energy Bill will cement the Government’s commitment to achieving a balanced energy future utilising a mix of hydrocarbon and renewable resources.

It is hoped the confidence delivered by the bill will create the opportunities required by the North-East offshore renewables industry, which has already invested £400m in offshore wind and employs about 6,000 people.

Energi Coast estimates another 2,000 potentially created in the region if clarity and stability within the industry is achieved.

But the organisation warned investment decisions post-2020 will be affected, which will impact on the large Round 3 projects, many of which will still be under construction in eight years’ time. The bill will not include a limit for the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted per megawatt hour of power from the electricity sector by 2030, which may lead to developers of Round 3 wind farms facing carbon emission target issues.

George Rafferty, Chief Executive of NOF Energy, said: “The Energy Bill enables the Government to be clear about its commitment to deliver a balanced energy future for the UK.

“By setting out a clear vision for the energy industry this bill can benefit the thousands of UK supply chain companies operating in the sector. These companies have developed world-renowned skills, technologies, products and services that will indispensable if we are to meet the country’s energy demands.”

Alex Dawson, chairman of Energi Coast, said: “It appears the Energy Bill will bring much needed clarity to the offshore wind sector that will drive investment and create opportunities for the supply chain.

“The North East is already a key location for offshore renewables activities with companies successfully serving early projects in the sector. Following the publishing of the Bill, momentum will build in the market and the next stage of projects will begin to come online with support from our supply chain, which is poised and ready to go.

“While the arrival of the Bill is welcomed, the political infighting that has led to compromises being made in its content are concerning.

“Eight years is not long enough to introduce an effective energy infrastructure. The Government has created a cliff edge as debates over decarbonisation will continue, which will become a future election issue and potentially disrupt the confidence of investors and operators.”

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