UK renewables subsidy auction secures 11 GW of new capacity

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General view of the Walney Extension offshore wind farm operated by Orsted off the coast of Blackpool, Britain September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble//File Photo

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LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - Britain's latest subsidy auction to help support new renewable energy projects awarded contracts to projects capable of generating a record 11 gigawatts (GW) of electricity, the government said on Thursday.

The 11 GW of clean energy capacity was almost double the capacity achieved in the previous round of auctions.

The capacity will be enough to power around 12 million UK homes and helping to reduce the UK's exposure to volatile global prices, the government said in a statement.

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Under Britain's contracts for difference (CfD) support scheme, the government offers a contract, or strike price, for a guaranteed minimum price of electricity for companies whose renewable projects win in an auction.

The largest capacity, almost 7 GW, was secured from new offshore wind projects, enough to increase the country's overall capacity built and under construction by 35% and help meet the government's aim of having 50 GW of offshore wind by 2030.

Orsted (ORSTED.CO), SSE (SSE.L), Vattenfall (VATN.UL) and Iberdrola's (IBE.MC) Scottish Power were among 93 winners of the contracts.

Scottish Power said it secured contracts for 16 renewable energy projects, including its 1.4 GW East Anglia Three offshore wind farm.

Vattenfall said it had won contracts for its Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm, which in its first phase will generate renewable electricity equivalent to meet the needs of around 1.5 million homes in Britain.

Orsted was awarded contracts for its Hornsea 3 offshore wind farm which is planned for 2027. The company said it expects to take a final investment decision within 18 months and possibly as soon as the end of this year.

SSE's Viking offshore wind farm in the Shetland Isles was awarded a contract for half of the project's 443 megawatt (MW) capacity. The Moray West offshore wind farm which aims to be fully operational by 2024/2025 and is owned by EDP Renewables (EDPR.LS) and Engie (ENGIE.PA), also secured a contract.

The government said the price of offshore wind per megawatt hour secured in this round of auctions was almost 70% less than that secured in the first allocation round in 2015.

This round also included tidal stream and floating offshore wind projects for the first time. Tidal stream secured a capacity of 41 MW and floating offshore wind secured 32 MW.

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Reporting by Nina Chestney and Eileen Soreng and Bharat Gautam in Bengaluru; editing by Jason Neely and David Evans

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