UK reaches 1GW of offshore wind energy By Zoë Casey (EWEA)

Offshore wind power has hit the headlines recently, nowhere more so than the UK which recently passed the 1 GW threshold. This capacity, according to RenewableUK, a wind and marine renewables industry association, means offshore wind turbines can now keep the lights ablaze in more than 700,000 UK homes.

The 1 GW level was reached as Dong Energy’s wind farm Gunfleet Sands, and E.ON’s Robin Rigg offshore wind farms were completed. These two farms add to the UK’s portfolio of 11 offshore wind farms dotted around the shores of the country from North Wales to the North East tip of Scotland.

This is an impressive rate of growth given that in 2000 the UK had just two experimental offshore wind turbines. RenewableUK says that the country is one of the world’s most promising markets for offshore wind power generation since it has good wind conditions and supportive legislation.

Maria McCaffery, RenewableUK Chief Executive, says the UK offshore wind energy sector is “world leading”, adding that, “in the first quarter of this year alone half a billion pounds of private investment has been invested directly into offshore wind power.”

However, the association has recently criticised the UK planning system saying that the amount of time it takes for a wind farm to be approved – approximately 27 months – is a waiting period that costs developers huge amounts of money.

“27 months is nearly two and a half years”, spokesperson Nick Medic said. That wait leaves, “millions of investment locked in the planning system,” he added, reported by Business Green.

One thing is sure: with some 4 GW of offshore wind farms currently under construction or with planning consent, there will be no let up in the expansion of offshore wind power in the UK.

By Zoë Casey, EWEA,