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UK Government launches consultation on competitiveness of low-carbon supply chains

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The UK Government has launched a consultation seeking views from industry on how to make supply chains across the low-carbon electricity generation sector more competitive, productive and efficient as part of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme.
UK Government launches consultation on competitiveness of low-carbon supply chains
Courtesy of NREL.

CfD is the Government’s primary method of supporting renewable energy, driving down the cost of technologies and encourages private investment by providing projects with a stable income. Consultation proposals include more rigorous questioning and scoring of questionnaire responses, along with introducing an interview - allowing for greater scrutiny of CfD applications - and raising the pass mark to make qualification more robust.

The government says that the potential changes will ensure generators commit to a range of actions to increase competitiveness of supply chains, driving down the cost of energy generation.

“The Contracts for Difference scheme has helped the UK become a world leader in renewable energy, drive down costs and reduce our exposure to volatile global fossil fuel prices” said Energy Minister Greg Hands.

The consultation also includes a suggestion to extend the Supply Chain Plan process to cover some emerging renewable energy technologies, including floating offshore wind, to ensure Supply Chain Plans are included for technologies expected to experience significant growth and mass deployment in the next CfD round.

The Government’s main tool to ensure CfDs can grow the low-carbon economy are Supply Chain Plans, which are put forward by developers of projects that have a capacity of 300 MW or more in their CfD application and assessed in a questionnaire before they can compete in the CfD auction.

Within the CfD questionnaire, applicants choose the Supply Chain Plan commitments they wish to make, these are then tested for their quality and ambition ahead of an application being passed, while ensuring the UK fully abides by its international obligations set out by the World Trade Organisation and in the EU-UK trade agreement.

Having already strengthened the supply chain plan assessment process in the CfD’s fourth allocation round - the results of which are due to be announced in the spring/early summer - further changes will help ensure the fifth round delivers increased benefits when it opens in 2023.

The Business and Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, has the ability to terminate a contract as a last resort if generators do not fulfil the Supply Chain Plan commitments they have made, with the consultation also inviting views on excluding sites from future application either for not signing the contract offered or for termination of the contract before or for failing to meet the delivery milestone.

The government says that the effectiveness of the CfD scheme’s market-based design has been demonstrated in cost reductions seen between the first allocation round in 2015 and the third in 2019, when the price per unit (MWh) of offshore wind fell by around 65 percent.

Within the consultation, the government is also launching a Call for Evidence seeking views on the potential for further changes to Supply Chain Plans for future allocation rounds.

For additional information:

Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

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