News

UK wind power portfolio reaches new milestone

UK becomes 7th country in world to install over 2 gigawatts of wind energy

Friday 9 February 2007

A snowy hill on the outskirts of Stirling in Scotland was the scene today for a significant milestone of achievement for the UK wind industry when Secretary of State Alistair Darling cut the ribbon to signal the commissioning of the turbine which takes the UK over the two gigawatts of installed capacity landmark.

The generation and export to the grid of electricity from the Braes of Doune wind farm places the UK firmly among the top global wind markets, now one of only seven countries in the world to have surpassed this level of wind power.

Two gigawatts, or 2,000 megawatts, of wind power in the UK will generate sufficient electricity to meet the needs of 1.1 million households – 4% of UK homes, or a third of homes in London, or almost half the homes in Scotland - and will prevent the emission of over 4 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, equivalent to taking 1.5 million cars off the road.

BWEA Chief Executive Maria McCaffery, who was onsite to witness the commissioning, said:

“This is a day for celebrating the achievement of a significant milestone for our industry and underlining the position of wind energy as the true leader in the renewables revolution.  There is still much work to do if we are to achieve the Government’s target of delivering 10% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2010, but today’s news is a tremendous step forward for harnessing our abundant natural resources for clean and sustainable energy production which is essential in overcoming the challenges of climate change and securing energy supply.”

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Alistair Darling, said:

“Reaching two gigawatts is a significant landmark and the UK wind industry is to be applauded.  It reflects the Government’s commitment to expanding the UK’s renewable energy resource.  This is central to our efforts to tackle climate change, highlighted again last week by the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change. 

“We want 20% of our electricity to come from these green sources and we are working hard on removing any barriers to achieving that aim.  Wave, tidal and offshore wind power can make a significant contribution in future but onshore wind energy is delivering capacity here and now.”

Airtricity Chief Executive Eddie O’Connor added:

“We are delighted that our new 72 MW Braes of Doune wind farm is playing a pivotal role in achieving a UK generation record of two gigawatts of wind power. 

Wind energy replaces fossil fuel when the wind is blowing and so saves the cost of buying the fuel.  Wind is free.  Wind energy has a fixed price and so mitigates the risk of fossil fuel price fluctuations.  In a study carried out on the Scottish market it has been shown that the customer gets a reduction in price of 6% because of the risk reduction that wind entails.

Such a large amount of wind means that the spot price of fossil fuels is reduced.  If the wind blows strongly for a long winter period (as happens each year) then the price of next summer’s fossil fuels is reduced.  More wind means that carbon fines are foregone and the world is made into a safer place.

Airtricity’s two operational wind farms in Scotland and our planned on and offshore wind farm developments in the UK will help the country reach its renewables targets for both 2010 and 2020.”

The commissioning of the UK’s second gigawatt of wind power capacity is welcome news to many, including the RSPB, who’s Director of Conservation Dr Mark Avery commented:

“Renewable energy can play a valuable role in helping to combat climate change, which poses a significant threat to birds and other wildlife. The RSPB welcomes opportunities to work with developers to ensure that wind farms are designed and sited so as to avoid damaging important wildlife and habitats."

This industry landmark demonstrates the rapid progress of onshore wind.  It took 14 years to achieve the UK’s first gigawatt milestone in June 2005, following the construction of the UK’s first commercial wind farm, Delabole in Cornwall in 1991.  Now, just 20 months later, the UK has built its second gigawatt with a total of 137 projects under its belt.

With Government’s target for 10% of electricity supplies from renewables less than three years away, 2007 is a critical year for the wind industry if it is to meet widely held expectations of it as the main contributor to meeting targets.  771 MW is already under construction but a potential 6% (7.8 GW) of UK electricity supplies is still caught in the planning system from onshore wind projects alone, an issue that needs to be resolved rapidly if the country is to reach 3 gigawatts in record time and keep pace with other the countries flying the renewables flag.

 

For further information, see the accompanying status report on the UK wind industry.

Notes to Editors

BWEA is the UK’s leading renewable energy association. Established in 1978, BWEA now has over 330 companies in membership active in the UK wind, wave and tidal stream industries. BWEA is at the forefront of the development of these sectors, protecting members’ interests and promoting their industries to Government, business and the media.

Wind energy has now started a major expansion in the UK and will be the single greatest contributor to the Government’s 10% 2010 renewable energy target and 20% 2020 renewable aspiration. Together, wind, wave and tidal power can supply 21% of our electricity by 2020, resulting in over £16 billion of investment in UK plc. See www.bwea.com/energyreview

2 GW of wind energy capacity provides:

A full status report on the UK wind industry, including its future potential and the challenges it faces, is available at www.bwea.com/pdf/briefings/ukwindstatusJan07.pdf

 

Global wind energy capacity statistics:

  1. Germany        20,622 MW
  2. Spain            11,615 MW
  3. US                11,273 MW
  4. India             6,053 MW
  5. Denmark        3,136 MW
  6. Italy             2,123 MW
  7. UK                2,016 MW
  8. Netherlands    1,564 MW

Source: Global Wind Energy Council, Feb 2007, www.gwec.net

About Braes of Doune
 
The 36 turbine 72 MW Braes of Doune wind farm near Stirling was developed by Airtricity and constructed by Vestas Celtic and Alfred McAlpine. It will generate green electricity for 45,000 Scottish Gas customers.  See www.airtricity.com