The UK's race to net zero 2050
In 2019 the UK Government became the world's first major economy to pass legislation towards ending its contribution to global warming.
Following the declaration of a climate and biodiversity emergency, the legislation will require a reduction of all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
If this target is to be achieved, the UK must revolutionise its energy culture.
Currently, renewable energy from wind is heavily relied on – as is nuclear – to obtain this ambition, but the heavy demands for energy from society requires a more resilient and diversified stream of resources.
This new energy landscape will also require a significant change both in how we deliver and use energy as a whole.
Offshore renewable energy is an increasingly attractive solution that offers a reliable and diverse combination of power sources, potential for economic growth, and is embedded in the government's Industrial Strategy.
As an island nation with a long coastline, ORE is a natural solution for the UK.
It also has the advantage of being locally available, providing energy security, and it is set to become an important export market.
The UK is currently at the forefront of developing, adopting and exporting ORE technology, and so must spearhead research and innovation in this sector to accelerate its adoption worldwide and help to combat climate change.
The challenges facing ORE
For ORE technology to be successful, there needs to be an appreciation of its interaction with the whole energy system, including a thorough understanding of how the device will affect and be affected by the environment it is in, and affect other users of the space, the grid, and end users of the generated power.
Offshore wind, wave and tidal have all developed at different rates, with offshore wind technology having achieved significant advances and cost reduction thanks to its deployment at scale and incremental development from its onshore counterpart. The three areas have considerable synergies due to facing similar challenges that are presented by the environment they are deployed in, those faced with the operation of offshore technologies, and with the challenges in knowledge sharing.
While costs have reduced significantly for fixed offshore wind, floating offshore wind, tidal stream and wave energy remain too expensive to attract significant investment. Further work is needed for reliable prediction of ORE performance and survivability, particularly when exploring new regions or conditions to deploy in.There is also still much to learn and develop to combat the challenges of data security, monitoring, risk mitigation, and evaluation of offshore renewable energy solutions.
All of these challenges reinforce the need for improved understanding of the response of ORE systems to environmental inputs in order to improve performance predictions.It is also critical to improve understanding of environmental responses to ORE system presence, to give confidence in resource and environmental impact predictions.