Floating wind: Government opens up £160m funding and unveils industry champion

The government has launched a £160m funding program to support its goal of delivering up to 5GW of floating offshore wind capacity in the UK by the end of the decade, alongside the announcement of a new industry ‘champion’ to spearhead the scaling up of the cutting-edge technology.

The new Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment SchemeFLOWMIS) is aimed at boosting UK capability in the technology at sites in Scotland, Wales, and elsewhere by supporting manufacturers and encouraging private investment in the emerging sector, the government said.

It follows the decision last month to expand the UK’s floating wind target to 5GW by 2030, as part of the government’s broader aim to deliver up to 50GW of offshore wind capacity by the same date, as set out in the Energy Security Strategy.

Advocates of floating wind technologies argue that by installing wind turbines in deeper waters out at sea without the need for fixed foundations, it enables higher wind speeds to be captured, and therefore more energy generated, as well as potentially lower costs. The sector remains in its infancy at present, but is expected to take off rapidly in the coming years.

And, to help drive work to accelerate new offshore wind projects around the UK, the government has appointed Tim Pick as the UK’s first Offshore Wind Champion, a role that will see him chair the Offshore Wind Acceleration Taskforce.

Pick boasts more than 25 years’ experience of advising on the development of energy projects worldwide, including legal work at the law firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Shearman & Sterling.

The Taskforce is designed to bring together companies from across the offshore wind sector to coordinate their efforts and speed up further development across the UK.

At present, 15GW of floating offshore wind has been leased through the ScotWind process, while another 4GW has been leased off the Welsh coast in the Celtic Sea. Together, these leases could deliver well over a thousand new floating offshore wind foundations, the government said.

“We are delighted to appoint Tim Pick as the UK’s first Offshore Wind Champion and begin the process of supporting British jobs and offshore wind manufacturers with £16m of government funding,” said Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. “Our announcement today represents another important step in our ambitious plans to accelerate offshore wind as a source of affordable, homegrown energy for the UK and drive down bills for households.”

The news comes just days after a separate boost to the government’s Energy Security Strategy, after Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed plans are underway for a potential new nuclear power plant in Wales.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Cwmni Egino announced on Friday that they will work together on proposals for the siting of a new nuclear development at Trawsfynydd, north Wales.

“Our ambition for a British nuclear renaissance means a bright future for nuclear power in Wales, not only securing energy at clean, affordable, homegrown but also jobs and investment sites like Trawsfynydd,” said Kwarteng. “We remain on track to realise our plan to approve eight new nuclear reactors by 2030, transforming the UK’s energy network and revitalizing decommissioned nuclear sites.”

The NDA are charged with the mission to clean up the UK’s earliest nuclear sites to ultimately release its 17 sites for other uses. Cwmni Egino (CE) is a development company wholly owned by Welsh Government, established to drive future development at the Trawsfynydd site and to promote regional economic and social regeneration.

The NDA site at Trawsfynydd is home to a Magnox station which is being decommissioned by Magnox Ltd, a subsidiary of the NDA, but the NDA also owns land outside the Magnox site boundary which could potentially be used for a new nuclear development.

As part of this new arrangement, the NDA will share information about the characteristics of the available land at the Trawsfynydd site, its decommissioning plans and support Cwmni Egino in the development of its socio-economic plans. It will also offer an opportunity for Cwmni Egino to engage with potential developers and technology providers who wish to participate in the development of the Trawsfynydd site.

Cwmni Egino is progressing its plans for a development at Trawsfynydd and hopes to be in a position to confirm their outline business proposition within the year, the government said

David Peattie, NDA CEOsaid: “As well as delivering our mission, we’re committed to helping the government in supporting its energy goals and our partnership with Cwmni Egino, around the potential future use of land at Trawsfynydd, is testament to our continued support of government policy and our socio-economic obligations.”

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