Energy giant E.ON, which operates wind farms in Northern Ireland and Britain, has become the latest investor to back the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA), a pioneering industry initiative to slash the costs of offshore wind power.
EON is teaming up with five founding members that include offshore wind developers: DONG Energy; RWE Innogy; ScottishPower Renewables; SSE Renewables and Statoil, which recently announced it will be extending its commitment to the OWA over the next four years bringing the total investment into the project to £9.2m.
Collectively the OWA partners represent 61% of the offshore wind capacity licensed in UK waters (30GW). Launched by the Carbon Trust in 2008, the OWA is one of the world’s leading technology research and development initiatives designed to reduce the total cost of offshore wind energy.
Offshore wind structures are taller than the Gherkin building in London and installation rates need to increase from less than one a week to as many as 2.5 per day by 2020 if the UK is to meet its 15% renewable energy target. The OWA has the objective to reduce costs by 10% over the next decade which would enable deployment to happen faster.
“E.ON has installed 64% of all offshore capacity in Europe so far this year, and we have another 4000MW of offshore wind in our project pipeline, so reducing the cost is of vital importance to us. The OWA will help focus the industry’s efforts to tackle the big issues in a coordinated way and the results will benefit us all,” says Michael Lewis, European managing director of E.ON’s renewable business.
“The fact that one of the world’s largest and most important energy companies is joining this project shows just how serious investors are in the offshore wind potential of the UK,” points out UK Energy minister Charles Hendry. “We’ve got the resource for a huge expansion of offshore wind and we want to make sure we harness the supply chain, investment and job potential that can bring.”