Up to 17GW of renewables eligible for newest round of Contracts for Difference, analysis shows

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There is currently 17GW of technologies likely to be eligible to bid in the fourth allocation round of Contract for Difference, Cornwall Insight has revealed.

This analysis is based on the consultancy’s Renewables Pipeline Tracker service, which assesses viability based on a range of criteria across planning and grid connection status, project sizing, route to market confirmations and ongoing project activity.

Of the total 17GW eligible almost half (7.9GW) is offshore wind. The rest is made up of 7.6GW of “Pot 1” (established technologies) and 1.4GW of “Pot 2” (less established technologies).

“Pot 1” technologies have been re-integrated into the scheme for AR4, and the analysis shows over 5GW of onshore wind and 1.7GW of solar PV could be eligible to bid, with a number of further solar PV sites known to be in the grid connection queue.

Lucy Dolton, Analyst at Cornwall Insight, commented on the findings: “Recent announcements by BEIS have confirmed the Contracts for Difference fourth allocation round auction will take place in ‘late 2021’ and will look to procure up to double the ~6GW seen in the third allocation round.

“With a potential of up to 12GW available, it is easy to see how industry eyes are turning to how much of the pipeline could compete.

“Currently, a 7.9GW pipeline of offshore wind is eligible. On top of this, the 2.4GW Hornsea Three site and the 1.8GW Norfolk Boreas site are still awaiting Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning (NSIP) approval.

“Should this come in time, they could also enter fourth allocation round.

“Across ‘Pot 1’ and the remaining ‘Pot 2’ technologies up to a further 9GW of sites could be eligible to compete.

“Since our last Renewables Pipeline Tracker assessment, we have added a further 4GW to our view of maximum viable Contracts for Difference pipeline capacity.

“It is clear the industry is gearing up for the opportunity provided by the scheme, especially when compared to alternative subsidy-free options.

“The announcement by BEIS has confirmed some of the key aspects that will enable the re-integration of onshore wind and solar PV into the scheme, as well as wider scheme changes for fourth allocation round.

“However, we are still awaiting BEIS’ confirmation on budgets and capacity caps before we can fully assess how this 17GW will compete in next year’s auction.”