PML response to new government energy strategy
7 April 2022
The UK Government’s ‘British energy security strategy’ (published April 7 2022) sets out how Great Britain will “accelerate homegrown power for greater energy independence”.
Against the backdrop of rising global energy costs, the strategy sets out plans for increased nuclear, solar and wind energy generation as part of a bid to accelerate the transition away from oil and gas.
This includes an ambition to deliver up to 50GW of offshore wind power by 2030, including up to 5GW of innovative floating wind power.
Scientists at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) involved in marine research relating to the offshore energy sector have given the strategy a cautious welcome, noting that further scientific work is required to ensure the potentially negative impacts of large scale offshore wind installation in the marine environment can be closely assessed, monitored and mitigated:
Professor Nicola Beaumont, who leads the Sea and Society team, said:
“Renewables are rightly proposed to play an increasingly significant role in the UK energy mix and we fully support the emphasis on decarbonisation. As part of this, the aspiration to deliver 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 is a strong opportunity, but to be truly ‘green’ this deployment must be undertaken with due care and process, fully taking into account the potential effects on the marine environment, ecosystems and biodiversity.
Although the secondary impacts of offshore wind may not be as immediately obvious as onshore wind, they do exist. Impacts will be both positive, such as providing additional habitats for shellfish, but also potentially negative, for example to some bird and mammal species. We currently do not completely understand the implications of making such major changes to our offshore environment. As such, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, in collaboration with UKERC, are continuing our extensive research efforts to support these changes and ensure the most sustainable approach can be taken.”
The recently released ECOWind programme will also be working towards this goal. Ensuring that this offshore development is truly ‘green’ will be a major challenge for UK science in the coming years, but is certainly achievable.”