UK wind hits 5 GW mark

The announcement was made following the inauguration of the 300 MW Thanet offshore wind farm, off England’s south east coast.

RenewableUK Chief Executive Maria McCaffery MBE, said of the achievment, “Five gigawatts is an important milestone for two reasons: it takes us within reach of our 2010 targets on renewable electricity, while proving that each successive gigawatt takes less and less time to deploy. Renewable energy generally and wind energy in particular is not alternative energy any longer - it is absolutely mainstream.”

However, some analysts used the occasion to criticise the UK's achievments when it comes to renewable energy. Alex Desbarres, a senior analyst at Datamonitor said, “Few reports will mention that the overall level of wind farm deployment in the UK, both onshore and offshore, is dismal when you consider the countries vast wind resources. Fewer still will mention the fact that the UK’s wind energy ambitions are being undermined by a national energy policy model which is no longer fit for purpose.

"Wind power is the obvious political low hanging fruit. It has been hand-picked by this and the previous government over other forms of power generation, and while it does have a part to play in the UK’s energy mix, it is not the silver bullet the media often makes it out to be.”

UK Wind facts and figures

  • The UK now has 5,056 megawatts (MW) or 5.1 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy generating capacity installed. This will be split between 1,341 MW of offshore wind and 3,715 MW of onshore wind;
  • The total number of utility scale wind turbines in the UK will be 3076, counting both onshore and offshore. 2640 will be onshore and 436 offshore;
  • In practical terms this means that wind will provide just over 4% of the UK’s total electricity consumption, with other renewables providing around 5%;
  • In terms of onshore, the UK has just 1 turbine per each 100 square kilometres of onshore land mass, compared to 11 in Denmark, 6 in Germany and the Netherlands, 3 in Spain and 2 in Portugal and Ireland;
  • On average, due to better wind conditions a wind turbine in the UK generates 50% more electricity than the same wind turbine in Germany. However, Germany has 21,315 wind turbines installed compared to the UK’s 3,076;
  • In terms of electricity delivered to the grid the output from UK’s renewable power stations is expected to overtake nuclear in 2013;
  • Currently, there are 2,576 MW (966 turbines) of projects in construction onshore and offshore in the UK, and a further 6,166 MW (2311 turbines) with planning consent. Together existing renewable and wind capacity, this should increase the share of renewables to around 15% of all consumption;
  • The current onshore capacity in the planning system is 7.4 GW.