A huge surge in proposed offshore wind projects around the UK’s coastline will deliver eight times the country’s current capacity and put the country ahead of China and the USA in terms of planning, new analysis shows.
Projects now in the pipeline mean the UK is on course to have offshore wind capacity totalling 86 gigawatts (GW).
Between 2009 and 2021, the cumulative installed capacity of offshore wind power in the United Kingdom rose from 951 megawatts to 10.5GW. But this is set to rise by eight times.
According to Renewable UK, there has been a 60 per cent increase in the offshore wind pipeline in the last year alone.
This analysis includes projects which are fully operational, under construction, consented, in the planning system or being developed for submission into planning.
The boom in development has been driven mainly by massive leasing round announcements by The Crown Estate (8GW) and Crown Estate Scotland (25GW), the report’s authors said.
Wind power already provides almost a quarter of all UK electricity in Britain, increasing by 715 per cent from 2009 to 2020, according to the ONS.
Renewable UK said China now has more capacity fully operational than the UK (24GW compared to our 10.5GW), but the UK’s total pipeline of 86GW is bigger than China’s 75GW.
Meanwhile the USA is in third place with 48GW in its pipeline.
Dan McGrail, chief executive of RenewableUK, said: “Our latest EnergyPulse report shows that the UK’s world-class offshore wind industry has taken huge strides forward in the past 12 months, with landmark leasing announcements adding an extra 33GW to our pipeline, and funding for floating wind ringfenced in the current CfD auction to help accelerate the growth of innovative technology.
“It’s clear that offshore wind will be doing the heavy lifting as we secure our clean home-grown energy supplies and move faster towards independence from unstable fossil fuel imports.”
He added: “The global offshore wind market is also continuing to grow at a phenomenal rate with an extra 200GW added to the pipeline over the last year. As the UK was an early mover in offshore wind, we’re in a prime position to capitalise on our expertise as a market leader which is highly sought after worldwide.“
The report’s authors also analysed data on major components of UK offshore wind farms such as turbines, cables and substations.
Their analysis also highlighted how average turbine capacity will increase from 8-9MW this year to 14-15MW by 2025.
Overall this means the industry will require more UK-based factories, which will also need to be larger, creating new supply chain opportunities.
The report comes amid a row in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet over loosening planning regulations for on-shore wind turbines, which have effectively been subject to a ban since 2014, when David Cameron said people were “fed up” with seeing the turbines.
Business and energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng has said that particularly in the light of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the energy crisis, people are now more open to domestic renewable sources of energy.
He told the i newspaper: “There were quite understandable political reasons that people didn’t want to see large scale, onshore winds in their vicinity,“ he said.
”I think that’s changed. I think people are much more open to renewable energy. And I think they realise that that’s part of the answer [to] Putin and other countries controlling oil and gas – you want to get energy independence.”
But according to the BBC, his suggestion of loosening planning restrictions on turbines has been met with opposition within the Cabinet.
“Multiple cabinet sources” reportedly said they were against relaxing planning laws for onshore wind, with one saying there was “very, very little” support for the idea.