UK, China harness offshore wind energy

The UK’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey and Wu XinXiong, Head of the National Energy Administration, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on offshore wind power on Thursday, the first of its kind that China has signed with another country.

Edward Davey said, ‘I am delighted that the UK and China have cemented their “Strategic Partnership on Offshore Wind” through the signing of an MOU. The UK has more offshore wind installed than the rest of the world combined and we have ambitious plans for the future. Together with China, who plans to develop 30GW of offshore wind by 2020, we want to make Offshore Wind a competitive low carbon energy choice. Our strengthened cooperation will bring significant commercial and environmental benefits for both countries.’

The enhanced cooperation is built upon the bilateral Energy Dialogue that was initiated in 2010 wherein both countries identified offshore wind as a priority area for UK-China collaboration. The second UK-China Energy Dialogue will take place on 27th September.

Existing bilateral cooperation on climate change and energy includes extensive joint work supporting the development of carbon markets in China; working in support of China’s low carbon pilot cities on policy development, standards and capacity building; joint energy research in cutting edge renewable energy technologies; and UK supported work to help China and other developing countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The MoU is expected to remove the technological and market barriers for both countries to accelerate wind power development and unleash significant investment potential for industries. Both countries have agreed to cooperate more closely in their policy development, technology transfer, personnel training, and to increase access to the markets in the UK, China, and other countries.

China currently is the world’s third largest offshore wind power installer after the UK and Denmark, but its target to increase offshore wind capacity to 30GW by 2020 will make it the largest global offshore wind market. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, it will need to leverage international expertise in the fields of policy, technology and supply chain.

Offshore wind is now a real and growing part of UK’s energy supply - the country currently has more than 1000 turbines with a combined capacity of about 3.6 GW, and the largest development pipeline in the world. The signing of the MoU will help facilitate Chinese investors’ access to UK’s offshore wind projects that will need £7 billion by 2020.

Beijing is the last stop of the Minister’s week-long visit to China starting from 23rd September. In his visits to Chongqing and Shanghai, the Secretary of State focused on bilateral cooperation in green buildings, carbon trading as well as on the science of climate change. His visit comes as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is due to release its landmark fifth assessment report on Friday. The report is expected to provide the world with more scientific consensus than ever before that urgent action must be taken to tackle the real and immediate threat of climate change.

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