INTERVIEW: Huub den Rooijen

UK seabed landlord the Crown Estate has set out a strong vision for the country's offshore wind industry in the run up to 2020 and beyond, arguing there are clear signs the industry is coming of age but it must get better at telling its success story.

“The UK remains one of the most attractive places to invest in offshore wind in the world, thanks to its fantastic natural assets, policy framework and greater market certainty afforded by the conclusion of Electricity Market Reform (EMR),” says Huub den Rooijen, the Crown Estate’s head of offshore wind.

“We’re therefore confident that the industry will meet the government’s targets to deliver between 8GW and 15GW by 2020. In fact, offshore wind has the potential to deliver 10% of the UK’s electricity by then.

“However, the real prize will be unlocking the full potential of this natural resource over the long term to secure a low-carbon future, create highly-skilled jobs and reduce energy costs to consumers.

“This is reinforced by the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports which emphasised the continued need for renewable and low-carbon power generation,” he says.

However,  despite the successes den Rooijen argues that too often the story around offshore wind is downbeat.  “Like the search for oil and gas, so too will the development of offshore wind prospects often uncover issues that render projects unattractive because of technical or environmental reasons.

“And in today’s competitive world, consented projects need to compete for funding, which is a game of winners and losers. This attrition is too often misunderstood as a sign of an industry in distress by those who assume that all national capacity is going to be constructed.

“Instead, such attrition is healthy, as it brings greater investment clarity on potentially successful projects and helps to focus resources,” he adds.

To coincide with this week's All Energy event, the Crown Estate published a series of ‘outlook’ papers for the years ahead, setting out the diverse range of activities across its portfolio.

These include wind, wave and tidal power, carbon capture and storage, gas storage, marine aggregates and minerals, cables and pipelines.

Among the key facts are:

  • Offshore wind is expected to have 5GW of operational capacity by the end of 2015, up from 3.7GW currently
  • Offshore wind already provides more than 3% of all electricity in the UK
  • There are 1,100 turbines at sea and another 350 are currently under construction