UK: Offshore wind power reaches 1GW

Landmark reached with installation of DONG Energy’s Gunfleet Sands and E.ON’s wind farm Robin Rigg. Development pipeline now over 40GW, sufficient to provide bulk of UK’s electricity.

The landmark first gigawatt (GW) of installed offshore UK wind energy capacity has been reached this week as two wind farms off the coast of Britain began generating electricity: Robin Rigg operated by EON and Gunfleet Sands operated by DONG Energy. One GW, now comprising of 11 wind farms, or 336 installed wind turbines, cements UK’s world-wide lead in the sector.

Maria McCaffery, RenewableUK Chief Executive said: “The UK offshore wind industry has come of age. In the last ten years we have built a brand new world-leading industry sector that will create long-term value for this country. In the first quarter of this year alone half a billion pounds of private investment has been invested directly into offshore wind in the UK.

The opportunity now for this country is to build on this position of global leadership to develop the industrial and service supply chain to provide the equipment and skills that will embed Britain’s competitive advantage in marine renewables. To have deployed 1,000MW of offshore wind plant in ten years, and with pioneering technology, is a tremendous step forward.”

Currently, there are over 40GW of offshore wind farms at various stages of development, with over 4GW in construction or with planning consent . The sector is set to provide 150+ TWh of carbon free electricity a year, compared to the UK’s total electricity consumption in 2009 of 374 TWh, creating up to 70,000 ‘green collar’ jobs and attracting billions of pounds in investment.

As the Digest of United Kingdom of Energy Statistics for 2009, released last month, has noted, load factors for offshore wind are now on par with UK hydro at 35% and only 5% less than average load factors for conventional thermal generation.

Ed Miliband, Secretary of State at the Department of Energy Climate Change, said: “It is great news that we’ve reached the 1GW landmark. The UK is now the world leader in offshore wind energy generation. We are also set to be a centre of manufacturing for offshore wind.

We’re creating the right conditions and incentives to maximise the potential of our wind resource so we can create thousands of new jobs and generate our own home-grown, clean, secure energy. Labour is committed to maintaining the renewables obligation and reforming the planning system to build on this progress. We will also create the Green Investment Bank and maintain the Annual Investment Allowance to support our renewables industry.”

Greg Clark, Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: “ Britain’s offshore wind resources have world-beating potential and can provide us with secure and sustainable energy. I congratulate the offshore wind industry on reaching the 1GW landmark, but we have potential to go much further.

Offshore wind needs the right infrastructure, like the offshore electricity grid Conservatives have proposed, if it is to deliver on its potential at the lowest cost.”

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: “ We are delighted to see the first gigawatt of installed wind energy capacity. It is an important milestone but we need to do much more if we are to cut carbon emissions and our reliance on fuel imported from abroad.

Investing in infrastructure for a new green economy not only helps create jobs now but will allow Britain to take its place at the cutting edge of this growing industrial sector for the future. That’s why the Liberal Democrats have ambitious plans to invest £400m in our wind turbine manufacturing capacity. Britain clearly has the manufacturing and engineering expertise to lead the world in offshore wind, but the government has an important role in supporting this.”

Speaking on behalf of DONG Energy Anders Eldrup, CEO, said: "This is a very important day for both the UK and DONG Energy in the ambitious work of putting more wind power into the energy system. And along with partners we already have the next three wind farms under construction with a total capacity of another 1 GW."

On behalf of EON UK Michael Lewis, European Renewables Managing Director, said: “Meeting the 1GW offshore wind milestone is testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire industry. Offshore wind is a challenging environment in which to work, but the potential benefits it brings through the generation of clean renewable energy can be clearly seen.

“We’re incredibly proud that our own site, Robin Rigg, has helped the UK to meet this high point and are looking forward to building even bigger schemes like the London Array in the coming years.”

Current operational UK offshore wind farms are:
Blyth Offshore
Burbo Bank
Kentish Flats
Lynn & Inner Dowsing
North Hoyle
Rhyl Flats
Scroby Sands
Robin Rigg
Gunfleet Sands
Total: 1,041.2MW (1.041GW)

Statistics on load factors and electricity production:

Total 40GW+ pipeline of UK offshore projects is comprised of Rounds 1, 2 and 3, current extensions to Round 1 and 2 projects and Scottish territorial Waters projects. Statistics on immediate projects in construction, with planning consent or in planning can be found here: