The UK has reached over 20 gigawatts (GW) of wind generation capacity following this month’s opening of Ørsted’s 659MW Walney Extension wind farm off the coast of Cumbria, RenewableUK said.
Total operational capacity of onshore and offshore wind in the UK currently stands at 20,128MW, which is enough to meet the annual power needs of more than 14 million homes. 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 1GW in 2005 and grew to 5GW in 2010, before expanding rapidly to 10GW in 2013 and 15GW in early 2017. A further 5GW, a quarter of total wind energy capacity, came on line in the last 21 months, to push the UK above the 20GW mark this month with the commissioning of what is now the largest operating offshore wind farm in the world.
“It took 19 years to install the first 5GW of wind energy in the UK and we’ve now installed the same amount in under two years,” RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said.
“It was the opening of the world’s largest offshore wind farm that has taken us over the 20GW mark. We’re confident that offshore wind alone can reach at least 30GW by 2030 to become the backbone of a clean, reliable and affordable energy system.”