'UK must install 6520 offshore turbines to hit net zero’

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'UK must install 6520 offshore turbines to hit net zero’

The UK will need to install 6520 offshore wind turbines if it is to meet its net zero target, according to a new whitepaper from engineering outfit Atkins.

“Race to Net Zero” calculates the energy technology build rate required to meet the Committee for Climate Change’s UK net zero 2050 target.

It found that in addition to the 6520 offshore wind turbines, the UK power sector needs to build 48 natural gas units, 66 biomass facilities and six nuclear power stations in the next 30 years.

The UK also requires 20GW of onshore wind, 80GW of solar, and 15-30GW of energy storage, though unit numbers are undefined.

Atkins calculated that the UK is currently achieving 43% of the required build rate.

The future energy system will “rely heavily” on three industries still in their infancy: carbon capture and storage (CCS), energy storage and hydrogen production, the whitepaper stated.

 The findings followed analysis of the CCC Net Zero scenario which estimates that the UK needs to build 9-12GW a year, for the next 30 years, and predicts power in 2050 will be generated by nuclear (11%), wind and solar (58%), combined cycle gas turbines with carbon capture storage (22%) and bioenergy with carbon capture storage (6%).

The whitepaper also concludes that these percentages will be subject to change due to factors including a higher need for low carbon firm power, rising system costs and industrial capability.

The document also calls for “urgent” government investment to ensure that the required built rate can be achieved and any risk of relying on new technologies can be assessed.

 The whitepaper also recommends that a single government body or “Energy System Architect” is established to plan and optimise the 2050 energy system, and to evaluate whole life cost.

Atkins power generation assets market director David Cole said: “Market intervention in the UK offshore wind industry saw the cost of construction and electricity come down, resulting in the UK now being a global leader in deploying renewables.

“Similar intervention is now required across nuclear, new technologies and other energy sources so that the UK energy industry can construct the above number of facilities in enough time.

“We must replace almost all our current generating capacity and build as much again, and to put this context, the highest we’ve reached was 6GW in 2012 of gas and renewables infrastructure. The longer we wait, the higher these number will rise.

“In the midst of a global crisis, it can be overwhelming to think of future targets, but climate change is not going to fade away and thirty years is not a long time - we must act now; the government must act now.”


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