UK reaches 20GW wind generation mark

The UK has hit 20GW of wind generation capacity following last week’s opening of the world’s biggest windfarm off the coast of Cumbria.

Orsted announced last week that it had cut the ribbon on its 659MW Walney extension off the coast of Cumbria.

This pushed the total amount of UK onshore and offshore wind generation capacity to 20.1GW.

Wind contributed half of the 30 per cent of power that came from renewable sources in 2017.

Renewable UK said the electricity generated by the UK’s installed wind turbines would meet the annual power needs of more than 14 million homes, cutting carbon emissions by 25 million tonnes a year.

The UK’s first commercial onshore windfarm, Delabole in Cornwall, went operational in 1991, and the first offshore wind project in Blyth began generating in 2000.

Wind deployment grew to 5GW by 2010. An equivalent amount of wind generation capacity has been installed in the last 21 months alone, according to Renewable UK, which was set up exactly 40 years ago as the British Wind Energy Association at a meeting of engineers and academics meeting at the Rutherford Laboratories in Oxfordshire.

Commenting on the milestone, Renewable UK executive director Emma Pinchbeck, said: “It took 14 years to install the first 5GW of wind energy in the UK and we’ve now installed the same amount in under two years. That phenomenal growth shows just how quickly the UK is moving to a smart, low carbon power system and wind energy is at the heart of that.

“Over half of the UK’s wind energy capacity is onshore, which is the cheapest option for new power. However, government policy preventing onshore wind from competing for new power contracts means that consumers will miss out on low-cost power that will keep bills down.

“It was the opening of the world’s largest offshore windfarm that has took us over the 20GW mark. We’re confident that offshore wind alone can reach at least 30GW by 2030 to become the backbone of a clean, reliable and affordable energy system.”

The Walney extension project in the Irish Sea features 47 MHI Vesta 8.25MW V164 turbines and 40 Siemens Gamesa 7MW SWT154 turbines.

The previous record holder was the 630MW London Array, which is located in the Thames Estuary.

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