The landmark first gigawatt of installed offshore UK wind energy capacity has been reached with two wind farms off the coast of Britain beginning operation.
The two farms, which began generation last week, are 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.
“The UK offshore wind industry has come of age,” said Maria McCaffery, RenewableUK Chief Executive. “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.”
According to Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Greg Clark, “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.”