The UK is the windiest country in Europe and has one of the largest potential offshore resources in the world. Our offshore wind resource alone has been estimated as enough to power the UK three times over(1). Although these figure are only an estimate and any country needs a diverse portfolio of electricity generation, they still illustrate that wind could theoretically supply far in excess of 100% of the UK's electricity demands. Currently wind supplies only 0.8% of total supply.
The Government has set a target of 10% of electricity from renewables by 2010, and most commentators believe that wind will supply three-quarters or 8GW(2) of this, primarily from onshore deployment but increasingly offshore as the market develops.
The current market is almost entirely for large, grid-connected wind farms, due to the lower cost per megawatt of large turbines and the current market incentive system, the Renewables Obligation. Electricity supply companies are obliged by law to procure and increasing proportion of their electricity from certified renewable sources, rising to 10% by 2010. Unless a generator is connected though a wholesale electricity company it won't qualify for the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) and the majority of the financial benefit which comes with them. community renewables grants scheme, Clear Skies.
Wind in the UK is a mature industry, with a complex supply chain, including planning, environmental impact assessment, meteorology, electrical engineering, electricity trading, component and turbine manufacturing, transport and assembly. Our directory of member companies can be search by service type, so if you need a contact in wind energy, you've come to the right place. The cost of wind energy has fallen steadily since the first commercial turbine started generating in the UK 12 years ago, and is now price-competitive with coal on most sites.
Europe-wide, the market has grown 40% a year for the last seven years and is now set to start growing at this pace in the UK. There are currently over 880 MW of wind energy installed in the UK, but there is nearly three times this figure, more than 2 GW with planning approval waiting for construction, almost half of which is large offshore projects.
BWEA believes that the mature low-cost technology of onshore wind, coupled with the new offshore industry, will provide up to 8% of UK electricity by 2010, a 10-fold increase on levels today.
(1) The total UK offshore resource has been estimated at 986TWh/y (in an EC Energy study - 'Study of Offshore Wind in the EC', HG Matthies et al, 1995. JOUR 0072, Vertga Naturliche Energie and repeated in ETSU report W/35/00250/REP/1). Based on an a electricity consumption in 2002 of 343.8TWh, this represents 29% of the available resource.
(2) "The UK wind industry will play a major part in delivering the Government's renewable energy goals. Up to three quarters of all renewable energy is likely to be produced by wind power by 2010, which means around 8GW of clean green electricity. The British Wind Energy Association has played a vital role in the industry for 25 years. I look forward to its leadership continuing during the critical growth phase now ahead of us." Energy Minister, Stephen Timms MP, August 2003.