What does Brexit mean for UK renewable energy and low carbon projects?

The UK’s power supply is generated from a variety of sources, including Coal, Nuclear, Gas and a combination of Renewables such as Wind power, Solar, Anaerobic Digestion, Biomass, etc. However, a multitude of issues are coming into play as the Government has planned to phase out Coal power by 2025, and Brexit could potentially mean the UK can scrap renewable targets and agreements set out by the EU. All of this thrown into the mix means that the future of UK power is not quite set in stone, and supply sources could vary in terms of their contribution to the generation stack.

With this in mind, Dong energy giant made a plan to completely phase out coal, oil and gas from their energy supply, and instead have sold off their oil and gas stations in the North Sea in order to invest in off-shore wind farms across the UK. Most notably, Dong Energy have begun construction of Hornsea Project Two, which will consist of 300 wind turbines located in the North Sea with an expected capacity of 1.8GW of electricity. Dong Energy already have eight wind farms in operation off the coast of England, and a further five under construction, making a real shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Henrik Poulsen, Dong Energy’s chief executive, said that:

The future belongs to renewable energy sources… Development consent for Hornsea Project Two is very welcome. We have already invested £6 billion in the UK, and Hornsea Project Two provides us with another exciting development opportunity in offshore wind.

Dong Energy officials have argued that wind power is cheaper to build, generate and upkeep than other forms of power generation. Many have suggested that the cost of wind power for future supply would be much cheaper and more efficient than EDF’s Hinkley Point C, which has an estimated cost already of £92.50 per megawatt hour. Furthermore, reports from the end of 2016 suggested that low carbon and renewable power had made up around 50% of the UK’s power supply that year, with Christmas Day being reportedly power by renewable power only – a major landmark in terms of UK renewables.

The question that remains, is whether the UK’s renewable target will remain in place after Article 50 is triggered inducing Brexit and a formal exit from the European Union, along with its policies and legislation on energy, renewables and emissions. The existing climate agreements within the EU provide outlines and targets for energy efficiency and investment in low carbon technology. However once the UK has formally split from the EU, such targets could well be scrapped, as the Government will decide on which policies will be kept and what could replace existing legislation. Ultimately the investment in alternative renewables or low carbon technologies could being to decrease, in favour of less expensive fossil fuels and old power stations. The recent capacity market auctions have started concerns that renewable energy targets could be scrapped as gas and coal fired power stations had the majority win. This is despite efforts to fund a range of projects that would encourage to set up a variety of renewable sources of power to the UK to lessen the likeliness of power outages and spread dependency across different sources of power.




Sources: Energy Live News, the Guardian, the Telegraph, Dong Energy, SSE, the Energyst