The ‘Go West!’ paper explores and identifies the benefitsto the UK energy system and energy consumers of an offshore wind fleet that is more distributed around the UK.
The ‘Go West!’ paper is jointly sponsored by Simply Blue Group, Magnora Offshore Wind, Morwind and Northland Power, with Regen retaining editorial independence over recommendations and conclusions. The project has been informed by engagement with key energy sector stakeholders, including National Grid ESO, BEIS, Ofgem, Welsh Government, The Crown Estate, rUK and the CCC.
The study and its findings
A huge expansion of offshore wind is coming, but development to date has been focused in the southern North Sea. This concentration within a single weather window is already causing system balancing and price volatility issues. There is significant potential for offshore wind capacity off our west coast, but there are significant challenges to bringing forward capacity.
The ‘Go West!’study combines20 years of historical wind resource data with threepossible future offshore wind fleet scenarios –ranging from an east coast-biased fleet (‘Stay East’) through to a more geographically diverse fleet (‘Go West’) – to explore their energy generation potential and the associated system benefits.
By comparing these scenarios, the study finds that balancing offshore wind capacity between east and west coasts offers the following benefits:
More consistent generation, with reduced duration and occurrences of high power ‘peaks’ and low power ‘troughs’, reducing reliance on balancing actions using fossil-fuelled dispatchable generation during periods of low wind generation.
A significant reduction in the longest annual ‘event’ of very low power (below 10% capacity factor), increasing the feasibility of battery energy storage systems in response to such low power events.
Reduced variability of generation, both hour-to-hour and annual maximum variability (20 year average), reducing system operation costs and market speculation.
No reduction in total energy generation (yield) per year – which raises the question ‘When, where and what variability of generation do we want from our offshore wind fleet?’
Lower marginal cost of generation, which helps with consumers’ energy costs.
Lower grid carbon intensity, putting us on the pathway to the CCC’s 2035 target.
Reduced renewable curtailment, making better use of the renewables resources we have.