" "BY AROUND2016, THE UK WILLHAVE LOST 15 PERCENT OF ITS GENERATING CAPACITY FROMTHE CLOSURE OFCOAL-FIREDPOWER STATIONShe UK offshore resources, in particularoffshore wind, have the potential toprovide the entire UK with its energyneeds as well as a good part of Europe.However, a range of political, economic andenvironmental factors will play a part in determiningwhether this potential is realised. Over the ten-year period up to 1973, the USA spentabout US$100 billion in today's money sending mento the moon. They did this out of curiosity, and thedesire to be first. Some considered the adventure to bea wasteful folly; others considered it to be the mostaudacious, ambitious and significant achievement inhuman history. From either perspective the difficultquestion to answer is: did they need to do this? Overthe next ten years, the UK is planning to invest overUS$100 billion to build an offshore wind energyportfolio. Many people are questioning the viability ofthis ambition, and they would be right to do so. With itscomparable scale, the moon landings have shown usthat it is possible to make the necessary investmentwithin a pre-defined timeframe to achieve a seeminglyimpossible result. However, and other than theobvious, there is a key difference between the moonlanding programme and the UK's energy infrastructureinvestment plans. The UK's way of life, possibly ouractual survival, depends on delivering a new energyparadigm, and unlike the Americans in the 1960s, theUK does not have a choice. In the immortal words ofApollo 13, failure is not an option. THE CONTEXTBy around 2016, the UK will have lost 15 per cent ofits generating capacity from the closure of coal-firedpower stations and a further 20 per cent of itsgenerating capacity from nuclear power stations. Evenin times of recession, where the UK's electricitydemand has dropped by over 15 per cent, this losswould result in a capacity shortfall of 10 per cent. Theexpectation is this shortfall will come from theinstallation of new gas fired power stations. However,concerns have been raised about the security of gassupplies, not least by UK energy regulator, OFGEM. Inaddition to this serious issue of security of power andenergy supplies, the UK also faces the monumentalAbove: Kentish Flatsoffshore wind farmOFFSHORE WIND COULD BE KEY TO ENERGY SECURITY078RENEWABLE ENERGYROB HASTINGS, DIRECTOR OF MARINE ESTATE, THE CROWN ESTATET
RENEWABLE ENERGY079task of decarbonising its energy with an immediaterequirement to reduce its CO2 emission by 20 per centby 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. This is particularlychallenging when considering the energy demandprofile, which is equally divided between transport,industrial, domestic. This translates to electricitytransporting 25 per cent of energy consumed and thedirect conversion of fuel to heat or transportconstitutes the remaining 75 per cent. To achieve itsemission reduction obligations, the UK has few optionsother than large scale electrification of its energytransportation infrastructure. This suggests the UK'spower generation infrastructure will need to double incapacity by 2030 and triple again on that by 2050.Add the difficulties of energy security relating tohydrocarbons, and the scale of the challenge facingthe UK's capability to maintain its essential power andenergy infrastructure comes into focus.RENEWABLE ENERGYA clear strategic option for the UK in dealing with its energy challenges is to exploit the vast renewable energy resources that its geography hasfortuitously provided. This is particularly true withrespect to its offshore resources, which even withcurrent technology have the potential to provide theentire UK with its energy needs as well as a good partof Europe. Therefore, a large majority of the UK Government'sstrategy for clean energy and the wider energy sector isbeing played out in offshore waters. The activity hasalready started to deliver this potential and by 2015US$15 billion of new investment will have been madein offshore wind farms. By 2020, an estimatedUS$175 billion is to be invested in marine-relatedenergy projects. Offshore wind energy is to account forUS$150 billion of this investment. While offshore renewables are expected to make a greater contribution to the UK's energy mix in the future, a range of political, economic andenvironmental factors create significant uncertaintyover both the level of renewable capacity that will bebuilt and the pace at which it will become operational.Among the most important of these factors are:?