Review_Interview with Nick Medic, RenewableUK:“We need a sense of pride”

SWE 2014 08

Review 8 Nick Medic is Director of Offshore Renewables at RenewableUK, the trade association for wind power, wave power and tidal power industries in the United Kingdom. Medic started in communications at the British Wind Energy Association in 2007, becoming head of communications in 2008. In 2012 he assumed his present position at the association, renamed RenewableUK in 2009. Photo: RenewableUK Sun & Wind Energy 8+9/2014 UK ”We need a sense of pride“ SUN & WIND ENERGY talked to Nick Medic, Director of Offshore Renewables at RenewableUK about the current situation of the British wind and marine energy industry. S&WE: What do you see as RenewableUK’s key objective? Nick Medic: To secure the long term future of this industry. In the last ten years, this industry has gone from pioneering technology to mainstream. From just two offshore turbines in 2002, 50 in 2004, Britain now has 1,075 turbines. This is enormous progress. And we’re not yet fully into round 3. Over the last five years, we have put an offshore turbine in UK waters every 48 hours on average. I think that is amazing progress. Now we need to assure that our track record will serve to further the long term future. We are projecting 13 to 14 GW of offshore wind by 2020, more than trebling our current capacity. S&WE: There are many doubts about wind energy in the UK, especially onshore wind. But offshore is regarded by some elements of the public and the media as much too expensive – and something of a folly. What has your association done to dispel these doubts? Medic: I have no doubt that offshore wind can be a major energy player. We are now approaching 5 % of all UK electricity with an estimated 10 % by 2020 – and the costs are coming down. In fact, at the inauguration of round 3, the idea was to get 30 % of UK electricity from offshore wind alone. That is still the potential. But we realise now that two things must happen. First, offshore wind must cut the levelised cost of electricity. And we must build an industrialised base, a UK supply chain. And these two things must happen in parallel. We need a sense of pride, of ownership. Our association has done its best to support our members but government leadership is needed to avoid a start/stop scenario after 2020. S&WE: What will bring the costs down? Medic: The Institute for Public Policy Research recently published a paper on a vicious cycle versus a virtuous circle. That is, lack of certainty will discourage investment and innovation, while more investment in the supply chain will bring costs down. So we need to catalyse the virtuous circle. In fact, we have some policy certainty but only up to 2020 – and of course, a different government in 2015, when national elections will take place, could remove what certainty we have now. While we do have decarbonisation targets for 2030, there’s a stark contrast pre and post 2020. That is, we do not have the longer term certainty we need. S&WE: What is the UK government telling your association? Medic: Well, despite the uncertainty, the UK government wants to see movement on the cost of energy, and has challenged us to cut our costs dramatically by 2020, from £140 MWh to £100 MWh. But they don’t want to commit to longer term targets. In contrast, major energy sources including coal and nuclear were developed with strong government backing over decades, as were the big formerly nationalised industries. And there have been a number of recent policy changes to make it worse, notably the EMR to replace ROCs. We are getting policy changes instead of long term vision. This is not the right strategy if we want to develop a commercial and competitive industry.


SWE 2014 08
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