According to renewable energy analysts Aurora, in order to fulfil the goal, 260 wind turbines will have to be installed a year, roughly one for every working day.
The UK’s offshore wind capacity currently stands at 10 gigawatts, having been a mere one gigawatt at the beginning of the last decade.
Currently only 10 gigawatts of new wind power facilities have been contracted, meaning 20 gigawatts worth must still be contracted.
Under the contract for difference scheme, increasing capacity to 40 gigawatts will cost an additional £2.6 billion a year on top up payments, five times what the current budget allows.
Martin Anderson, head of renewables at Aurora and co-author of the report, commented:
“Our analysis suggests that meeting the 40 gigawatt target will require a huge increase in the deployment rate of offshore wind turbines, alongside significant capital investment, and planning consents to be approved in record time.
“Whilst offshore wind has demonstrated significant cost reductions in previous auctions, the impact of higher levels of renewables in the system will reduce offshore wind capture prices and the subsidy support schemes will require further budget.
“Should this target be achieved it would have wide implications for existing investors in the GB power system and represent significant Government involvement into the liberalised electricity markets.”
Increasing the UK’s offshore wind power capacity was one of the Conservatives’ flagship energy policies for December’s general election, and was reaffirmed in the subsequent Queen’s speech.
Energy suppliers have warned that achieving the target “will not be a walk in the park”. Jim Smith, managing director of SSE Renewables, said that delivering the target will require “a lot of collaboration between government, industry and stakeholders … to unlock this pipeline of projects”.