We must keep the pipeline of offshore wind projects flowing,  says Lisa Christie, interim UK country manager at Vattenfall.

The absence of any new offshore wind projects in this year’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction has thrown up no end of news headlines – most of them negative – either about the UK’s chances of reaching net-zero by 2050 or claiming that this proves renewable electricity is unaffordable.

True, without the four offshore wind projects eligible for this year’s auction (two of which are being developed by Vattenfall), the UK has not advanced any further forward towards the 50GW of offshore capacity the government is aiming for by 2030.

True, also, that building renewable electricity infrastructure has become more expensive in the last 18 months. But the same is true of virtually everything else, whether that’s the cost of food in the supermarket, petrol on the forecourt, oil and gas infrastructure. It’s all gone up in price.

What’s being overlooked is that the cost of doing nothing is significantly higher than the cost of rebuilding our electricity system to make it cleaner, smarter and more secure.

Back in July, Vattenfall took the difficult decision to stop the current development track of our 1.4GW Norfolk Boreas project. In recent weeks it’s been reported that the project is for sale, and some commentators are suggesting that offshore wind developers are backing out of the UK.

As far as Vattenfall is concerned, we’re doing what we would in July: we’re evaluating all the options to determine the best way forward for the three projects, which make up the 4.2GW Norfolk Offshore Wind Zone.

We’re continuing to develop the Zone – in fact, onshore cable route works have officially commenced – as we believe it is of such importance.

The UK needs the Norfolk Zone – for the amount of home-grown electricity it will provide, for the carbon emissions it will save, for the investment into supply chains and communities it will bring.

And it’s these three elements that decision-makers in business and politics should keep in mind. Whether we like it or not, we are in a cost-of-living and environmental crisis.

The UK’s energy infrastructure needs rebuilding at the same time that homes and businesses need to know that their energy bills aren’t going to keep going up forever.

Low-carbon and renewable power projects, enabled by the CfD process, will give us the electrons we need at a price we can afford which, crucially, won’t sky-rocket in response to global events. This is not the case with oil and gas.

In addition, the UK (and the east of England in particular) has a well-developed offshore wind supply chain that is crying out for more investment. Offshore wind is a global industry, and British businesses need full order books in order to grow and compete.

So far, the CfD process has been incredibly successful at expanding the amount of offshore wind capacity in this country while simultaneously driving down the cost. But now we’ve hit a bump in the road, and the simple fact is that prices have gone up.

The best way to deal with this challenge is to keep the pipeline of offshore wind projects flowing. If developers see that the UK government is prepared to back the sector through the hard times as well as the good, then developers will repay this country in kind, with more projects, more investment, more jobs, more community benefits and more clean power.

It’s understandable that during an economic downturn everyone looks to tighten their belts. But we can work together to overcome the difficulties and propel the UK forward, with its energy infrastructure on firmer foundations.