RenewableUK has confirmed the UK has hit a historic milestone of 20 GW of wind generation capacity. The opening of Ørsted’s 659-MW Walney Extension pushed the total amount over the 20-GW mark.
Total operational capacity of onshore and offshore wind in the UK currently stands at 20.128 GW, which is enough to meet the annual power needs of more than 14M homes, cutting carbon emissions by 25M tonnes a year. Wind is the UK’s largest source of renewable electricity, accounting for half of the 30% of power that came from renewables in 2017.
The UK’s first commercial onshore wind farm, Delabole in Cornwall, went operational in 1991, and the first offshore wind project in Blyth began generating in 2000. Initially, wind deployment climbed slowly to 1 GW in 2005 and grew to 5 GW in 2010, before expanding rapidly to 10 GW in 2013 and 15 GW in early 2017. A further 5 GW, a quarter of total wind energy capacity, came on line in the last 21 months, to push the UK above the 20-GW mark this month.
Commenting on the announcement, RenewableUK executive director Emma Pinchbeck said, “It took 14 years to install the first 5 GW of wind energy in the UK and we’ve now installed the same amount in under two years. That phenomenal growth shows just how quickly the UK is moving to a smart, low carbon power system and wind energy is at the heart of that.
“Over half of the UK’s wind energy capacity is onshore, which is the cheapest option for new power. However, government policy preventing onshore wind from competing for new power contracts means that consumers will miss out on low-cost power that will keep bills down.
“It was the opening of the world’s largest offshore windfarm that took us over the 20-GW mark. We’re confident that offshore wind alone can reach at least 30 GW by 2030 to become the backbone of a clean, reliable and affordable energy system.”