The UK has been the world leader in offshore wind since October 2008, with as much capacity already installed as the rest of the world combined.
The total offshore generating capacity in UK waters provides almost 15 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity annually, equivalent to the electricity consumption of over 3 and a half million homes.
In addition to the capacity already installed a further 14.3GW is either in construction or has planning approval, and a further 3GW is in the planning system.
Industry projections see a total of around 6GW of capacity installed by 2016 and around 10GW installed by 2020, by which point offshore wind will supply between 8 and 10 per cent of the UK’s electricity annually.
Employment growth in the sector has been substantial since the numbers were first sourced in 2008 and now stands at around 6,830 full time employees.
The first offshore wind farm in the UK was a near-shore installation in Blyth harbour, north east England, which started operating in 2000.
Since then, the sector has developed with a series of licensing ‘Rounds’ co-ordinated by the Crown Estate, the landlord and owner of the seabed.
Round 1 was launched in 2001 and is now almost complete. It involved 18 sites in England and Wales, and added a potential capacity of 1.5GW.
In 2003, the much larger Round 2 was issued, located further offshore and in deeper waters. It was formed of the three strategic areas; Greater Wash, Greater Thames and Irish Sea and when complete Round 2 will add another 7GW of capacity.
Round 3, released in 2010 is the biggest so far and features nine zones across the UK. The largest, Dogger Bank, has the potential to generate up to 13GW of power and is one of the largest energy projects anywhere in the world. Round 3 is set to enter construction from 2015 onwards and has a total of more than 24GW already leased to developers.
In addition to Rounds 1, 2 and 3, there is a further development programme in Scottish Territorial Waters overseen by the Scottish government providing the potential for over 2.5GW across 4 sites.
View detailed information about development rounds