Offshore wind farms generated a record 7.8TWh of electricity in the fourth quarter of 2017, spurred on by increased capacity and higher wind speeds compared to the same period a year before, according to a report by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
According to the UK Energy Statistics Report, offshore wind generation in the fourth quarter increased by 76% compared to 4.4TWh generated in Q4 2016.
Offshore wind’s load factor increased by 15.5 percentage points in 2017 Q4 compared to 2016 Q4, from 38.5% to 54%, the second highest load factor recorded in eight years and the highest since 2014 Q1.
Offshore wind generation also reached a record level for the whole year, increasing by 27%, from 16.4TWh in 2016 to 20.9TWh in 2017.
The power generated by offshore wind farms last year was enough to cover 6.2% of the UK’s entire electricity demand, compared to 5% in 2016, the report stated.
The load factors for the whole year increased by 2.9 percentage points, from a four-year low of 36% to 38.9%.
Offshore wind capacity increased by 1.7GW in 2017, as a result of several wind farms opening, including the 573MW Race Bank, the first half of the 660MW of Walney Extension, as well as the 402MW Dudgeon and final 59MW of the 259MW Burbo Bank Extension.
“These official figures confirm that it’s been another record-breaking year for wind energy, which generated 15% of the UK’s electricity in 2017. The move to a smart, renewables-led energy system is well underway,” RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said. “The cost of new offshore wind halved in 2017 and onshore wind is already the cheapest of any new power source in the UK.”
The UK offshore wind industry has recently committed to working with the government on a sector deal which would see offshore wind deliver one-third of the UK’s electricity and reach the connected capacity of 30GW by 2030.
The scaled-up ambition, together with the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, is expected to more than double the industry’s capacity from 13GW deployed or contracted today to 30GW by 2030.
Overall, renewables provided 29.4% in the previous year, which is up from 25% in 2016, while wind provided 15% of the country’s electricity demand, the highest annual amount ever, up from 11% in 2016.
The government also published figures showing that in the final quarter of 2017 wind reached 18.5% of the UK’s electricity, while the total electricity generated from renewables in 2017 increased by 18.8% in 2016, from 83.2TWh to a record 98.9TWh.