New research published this week suggests the UK could become a net exporter of renewable electricity by 2050.
Research from the Boston Consulting Group, announced at the All Energy conference in Aberdeen on Wednesday, said that with a huge increase in construction of renewables the UK could match the output of the UK’s North Sea oil and gas industry – the equivalent of 1bn barrels annually.
However, to begin successfully generating surplus energy for export the UK would need to massively increase the construction of offshore windfarms, floating windfarms, marine energy, wave power and tidal schemes. It suggests that by using one third of the country’s maximum renewable energy potential could result in surplus production.
Meanwhile using close to the UK’s full energy potential would satisfy the UK’s entire energy needs six times over and generate vast profits for producers.
However, experts warned that building on such a grand scale would require careful consideration of funding and skills requirements.
“The key question is what building and maintaining these wind turbines and their associated energy-storage and delivery systems would cost, in material and financial terms,” said Department for Energy and Climate Change chief scientific adviser David MacKay.
Research from the EU’s Pushing Offshore Wind Energy Regions group suggests skills shortages, inadequate training and industry standards must be addressed if the sector is to move forward, and more must be done to transfer skilled workers from the oil and gas industries into the renewable sector.
The Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group is investigating the options for transferring skills from the oil and gas sector to the offshore wind industry.
“The UK’s deep-rooted upstream oil and gas expertise puts it at a considerable advantage to harness the renewables market because it has infrastructure, transferable skills, research and all-important know-how,” said chief operating officer Morag McCorkindale.
“Many oil and gas mechanisms such as recognised codes of practice, sharing of information and supply chain management are also transferable. It is vital that we capitalise on this expertise and build as effective a supply chain in renewables as we have in oil and gas,” she said, adding that the Crown Estate’s Round 3 offshore wind installations will be challenging for the industry.