UK wind power today
Hydropower and biomass are the largest contributors of UK renewable energy – and wind is fast coming up as an important third player.
Onshore wind electricity generation increased, according to the Dti Renewable Energy Statistics, by 44.3% in 2005. In April 2006 Europe's largest onshore wind farm was approved in the UK - its 140 turbines just south of Glasgow will power 200,000 homes and provide 2.4% of the energy required to reduce UK carbon dioxide emissions by 10% by 2020, (5% of Scotland's 40% target). It is expected to complete in 2009 and will prevent 650,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions being released into the atmosphere annually.
Offshore wind, which is in early stages of development increased by 102.3% in 2005. By 2004 there were 1,200 turbines in 93 sites around the UK with a total capacity of 772 megawatts – 62 of these turbines were placed offshore capable of 124 megawatts. These provided 0.3% of UK’s electricity supply – enough for around 400,000 households.
The British Wind Energy Association has the most current information on wind farm development in the UK - by August 2006 there were 131 operational wind farms in the UK producing 1,853 megawatts of power.
By 2010 it is expected that wind energy will be the major contributor towards the 10% renewable energy target. As the greatest production of wind power will be in Scotland, the Scottish Executive is confidently expecting to meet a 40% target.
The existing offshore developments are part of a long term plan where 13 large offshore sites of a minimum of 30 turbines each have been approved. These are all expected to be running by 2010 with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, (1 gigawatt = 100,000 megawatts). A further 15 projects representing 5.4 – 7.2 gigawatts of new capacity have been offered site licences but are still awaiting planning approval – a third of these could be constructed by 2010.
The estimated 10% UK renewable energy sources could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2.5 million tonnes a year. Wind could make up ¾ of all renewable energy generation in 2010 representing a reduction of potentially 1.88 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.