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Record-breaking year of growth for UK wind energy

6 November 2013

The offshore wind industry has enjoyed a record breaking year in terms of new deployment, according to RenewableUK’s latest annual report, “Wind Energy in the UK”.

  • Offshore wind capacity grows by a record 79% in 12 months
  • Amount of onshore and offshore wind installed increases by over 40% since last year
  • For the first time, more wind built in 12 months offshore than onshore
  • Offshore projects getting bigger, while onshore projects become smaller

The offshore wind industry has enjoyed a record breaking year in terms of new deployment, according to RenewableUK’s latest annual report, “Wind Energy in the UK”.

The study, which assesses the state of the wind industry from July 2012 to June 2013, reveals a step change in the offshore wind sector. Installed capacity stood at 3,321 megawatts (MW) at the end of June 2013, up from 1,858MW 12 months earlier - an increase of 79%. Four largescale offshore projects went operational during the 12-month period covered by the report – Greater Gabbard, Gunfleet Sands III, Sheringham Shoal, and London Array which is currently the biggest offshore wind farm in the world (630MW), exemplifying the trend towards larger offshore schemes.

The 1,463MW installed offshore marks the first year in which offshore deployment has outstripped onshore wind. Onshore, 1,258MW of new capacity came into operation, bringing the total installed onshore to 6,389MW – an increase of 25%.

Onshore and offshore, a total of 2,721MW were installed between July 2012 and June 2013, taking the UK’s total wind capacity up from 6,856 to 9,710MW – a 40% increase - enough to power more than five and a half million UK homes. The new capacity brought £2 billion of activity to the UK economy.

Onshore, project sizes are declining overall, due partly to the growth of the vibrant sub-5MW market under the Feed-in Tariff, with projects at this scale now making up two-thirds of new onshore submissions. Other factors include a reduction in the availability of larger sites, and developers’ responses to changes in the planning system.

The number of onshore projects approved at local authority level (i.e. under 50MW) fell slightly to 68% (from 72% in 2011/12). 56% of projects were approved on appeal.

In a new survey included in the report, a small majority of RenewableUK’s member companies (54%) said they expected to take on more staff over the next 18 months. The UK wind industry already employs over 16,500 people in direct full-time jobs.

However, as the report notes, there are concerns within the wind industry about levels of political support and the Government’s ambition for the sector, leading to a decline in confidence. Despite this, there is a substantial pipeline of projects under construction, approved but not yet built, and in planning.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery, said: “We’ve smashed another record in the past year with more offshore wind installed than ever before – the 79% increase in capacity within 12 months is a terrific achievement. With onshore expanding by 25%, the wind industry as a whole has proved that it has the tenacity to achieve substantial growth.

It’s tangible proof of the dedication of thousands of Britons who are working tirelessly to generate electricity from a clean, home-grown source at a cost that we can control, increasing the UK’s energy security.

Tens of thousands more will be joining the industry over the rest of this decade as we build out the rest of the projects in the pipeline - as long as Government policy is supportive and provides the right framework for one of this country’s greatest modern industrial and environmental success stories to reach its full potential”.

Notes:
  1. RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with over 600 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK.
  2. On 30th June 2013 (the end of the 12-month period considered in the report), UK installed capacity stood at 9,710MW (onshore + offshore wind). Since then, total UK capacity has increased to 10,210MW.
  3. Onshore wind: in addition to 6,389MW operational a further 1,571MW are under construction, 4,804MW approved (not yet under construction) and 7,743MW in planning (awaiting decision). The UK consenting rate for onshore projects at local level in 2012/13 is 68%.
  4. The average UK onshore project size submitted into planning in 2012/13 is 9MW – this represents a fall from 14.6MW in 2011/12. In England, the average onshore project size submitted into planning in 2012/13 stands at just over 4MW, down from just under 7MW in 2011/12.
  5. Onshore consenting rates fell from a record 1,937MW in 2011/12 to 1,591MW in 2012/13 – but this is still the second largest level of annual consented capacity on record (the next highest was 2008/09 in which 1,472MW was consented).
  6. Offshore wind: in addition to 3,321MW operational, a further 1,297MW are under construction, 2,048MW approved (not yet under construction) and 7,662MW in planning (awaiting decision).
  7. The report also notes that operational data shows that offshore turbines are generating increasingly large quantities of clean electricity, with load factors of over 40%. For example, Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm reported a load factor of 43%.
  8. The report will be published on Weds 6th November at 3.30pm in the publications section.

 

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RenewableUK is the UK’s leading renewable energy trade association, specialising in onshore wind, offshore wind and wave & tidal energy. Formed in 1978, we have an established, large corporate membership ranging from small independent companies, to large international corporations and manufacturers. Acting as a central point of information and a united, representative voice for our membership, we conduct research; find solutions; organise events, facilitate business development, and promote wind and marine renewables to government, industry, the media and the public. Our vision is for renewable energy to play a leading role in powering the UK.

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