East’s huge green energy ambitions ‘will still fall short of what’s needed’, expert predicts

4C Offshore map of offshore wind farms off the East of England coast

4C Offshore's map shows offshore wind projects off the East Anglian coastline which are up and running, being built or which are planned - Credit: 4C Offshore

The East of England and the UK as a whole is “not even close” to producing enough energy to replace fossil fuel based on plans in place now, an energy analyst believes.

Despite a massive drive to increase greener energy output through a series of new and planned wind farms off East Anglia’s coast — and a growing expectation that new nuclear power station Sizewell C will be given the green light in mid-April 2022 when the government’s verdict is expected — there will still be a huge shortfall in the shorter term, Chris Anderson, chief executive of 4C Offshore Ltd, predicts.

The Lowestoft-based energy market intelligence business has drawn up a map of the East Anglian coast showing wind farms already producing energy, those being built and others which are planned.

Together, these would produce more than 24 gigawatts of electricity — about a third of the 76GW of electricity used by the UK in 2020.

But when the need to find green energy to power everything else — such as lorries, cars and ships — is taken into account, there aren’t enough schemes yet in the pipeline to cover all of these as well, he says. There are plans to produce other forms of energy such as green hydrogen, but there are a number of practical problems this technology faces — and converting “green” electricity to produce hydrogen means a big overall loss of energy produced estimated at around a third or more, he says, and he predicts it will be many years — possibly 15 — before Sizewell C is likely to be producing electricity.

4C Offshore’s map shows the current status of builds around the East Anglian coast. Government is looking at 40GW worth of green electricity being produced by around 2030, and 75GW by around 2050.

“Nearly all of these will be in place by 2030 except in our opinion Outer Dowsing which is unlikely to be completed until 2034,” says Mr Anderson.

Head and shoulders of Chris Anderson, chief executive of 4C Offshore

Chris Anderson, chief executive of 4C Offshore in Lowestoft - Credit: GGS Photo Graphics Ltd

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“The region is not limited to these — but this map shows the most likely outcome in the short term (to 2030).

“We think North Falls, and Five Estuaries will be under construction by 2030 but may not be completed.

“The wind farms shown represent an electricity generation capacity of 24.481 GW.  

“To put this in perspective,  in 2020 the whole of the UK had a total electricity generation capacity of 75.8GW, from all generation types including gas, coal, nuclear, onshore wind, solar, offshore wind, interconnection with Europe etc so 24GW is a significant portion from one type of energy source.

“Is this enough? Not close — we need abundantly more if we want to properly de-carbonise. None of this is anywhere near enough electricity to take us into the next decade really.”  

He added: “Whether the UK government will seek to use offshore wind to this level is still debatable — I am arguing they should.”