Offshore wind due to meet 10% of UK electricity demand by 2020

TOffshore wind farmhe UK is due to generate around 10% of its electricity supply from renewables – double the current, mostly, wind-industry capacity to 10 gigawatts-plus – according to the Crown Estate.

These are the main findings of two reports it published at Glasgow’s Global Offshore Wind conference – “Offshore Wind Operational Report 2014” and ‘Sharing Lessons and Good Practice in Offshore Transmission”.

Huub den Rooijen, Head of Offshore Wind at the Crown Estate, said: “There have been a number of significant milestones in 2014 for offshore wind – including a total of £750 million industry investment announced. 

“With more than around 1,460 wind turbines in operation or under construction and nearly 4 GW in operation, it is fair to say the industry is coming of age.

“And the certainty afforded by the conclusion of Electricity Market Reform and continued cost reduction and investment means that offshore wind is on course to provide around 10% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2020.” 

Highlights from Offshore Wind Operational Report 2014 report show:

  • Generation from offshore wind reached an unprecedented 11.5TWh in 2013. This equates to 3.3% of UK electricity demand – enough to power 2.7 million homes. Four wind farms – all in England (London Array, Greater Gabbard, Sheringham Shoal and Thanet)  – accounted for half the production in 2013
  • Last year, UK wind farms delivered a 37.7% capacity factor for the year as a whole – the highest portfolio average ever achieved (counting the output only from wind farms fully operational at the start of 2013).
  • In 2013, more than 6,800 people were employed in the offshore wind sector – more than doubled since 2010
  • Offshore wind generation has seen year on year growth of 53%, consistent with the average annual growth of 55%, over the past 10 years.
  • The London Array was the first offshore wind farm in the world to achieve an annual output of more than 2TWh in a single year, approximately 17% of the UK’s 2013 generation from offshore wind, despite not being fully commissioned until April 2013.

This other report, ‘Sharing lessons learned and good practice in offshore transmission’, outlines how the sector can take a more structured approach to the way in which knowledge is shared,  including a proposed ‘knowledge hub’ for information sharing.

Den Rooijen added: “Given the volume of offshore wind capacity already connected and the expected future capacity, there is a valuable opportunity to better understand the challenges faced on offshore transmission projects. By taking a more collaborative approach industry can capture this knowledge for the benefit of future projects as a way of reducing costs and risk.”

Commenting in the report, Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: “The UK is the number one country in the world for offshore wind, supporting green jobs and growth as well as strengthening our energy security. We have already attracted over £30 billion worth of investment in renewable technologies since 2010. Our ambitious electricity market reforms provide investors with the long-term certainty they need.” 

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