The United Kingdom stands at 5th position in wind energy capacity with 24,484 Megawatt and 4th position considering actual production with 75,639 Gigawatt hours. I will discuss the government’s ambition and strategy and mention the largest wind power plants with players spearheading the wind energy sector. Moreover, I will articulate the three obstacles hindering the growth of wind energy before concluding with final viewpoints.
Ambition & Strategy:
The UK government plans to deploy 50 Gigawatt of offshore wind power by 2030, with about 5 Gigawatt coming from floating offshore wind farms. Currently, offshore wind power capacity is approximately 13.8 gigawatts, a significant increase from the 3 gigawatts recorded in 2012.
Regarding strategy, the offshore transmission network review was launched in 2020 to ensure that the UK can meet net-zero ambitions and a suggested design for offshore wind farms, accompanied by a comprehensive network design follow-up initiative. The government is also investing £20 billion to accelerate the development of onshore wind farms.
Biggest Wind Powerplants
- Dogger Bank C is in the North Sea, developed through a joint venture between SSE Renewables, Equinor, and Eni through an investment of $3.9 billion. It has a capacity of 1.2 Gigawatt, and Bank A and B also have 1.2-gigawatt capacity. The wind farm will be operational in the first quarter of 2026.
- Hornsea Project One is off the coast of Yorkshire in the southern North Sea, developed with a joint venture between Orsted and Global Infrastructure Partners with an investment of $8.7 billion. Construction was completed in 2016, with the final turbine installed by October 2019. The facility has a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, ample to provide electricity for one million homes.
- Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm is off the Walney Island coast in Cumbria, co-owned by Orsted and Danish pension funds PFA and PKA, with a $3 billion investment. The construction began in August 2015, and it was fully operational in September 2018. It has the capacity of 659-Megawatt powering 600,000 homes.
- London Array is in the south-east of England, developed by the London Array Limited Consortium, comprised of Masdar, E. ON, and Orsted through a $3.5 billion investment. The construction began in July 2009 and fully operational in December 2012. It has a capacity of 630 Megawatt.
- The Beatrice offshore wind farm, located off the coast of Caithness in Scotland, was developed by a consortium of Scottish and Southern Energy, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, and Red Rock Power with a $3.4 billion investment. Construction commenced in April 2017 and reached completion in May 2019. It has a capacity of 588 Megawatt and can power 450,000 homes.
Key Startups & Companies
- Ripple Energy is based in London and founded in 2017. They are a clean energy ownership platform enabling people to own wind farms and supply cheap electricity to homes.
- Future Energy Associates is located in London and was founded in 2020.
- They use machine learning and software to optimise the design and operation of renewable energy and storage assets.
- Scottish Power is based in Glasgow and founded in 2013. Their speciality lies in generating, transmitting, and distributing wind energy, facilitating the transition to clean and sustainable energy.
- Ecotricity is based in Stroud and was founded in 1995. They produce and sell electricity through renewable sources such as wind, solar, and sea mills.
- Venterra Group is headquartered in London and was founded in 2021. They are engaged in providing services for the lifecycle of offshore wind farms, project management, and engineering.
- The most significant challenge in scaling wind power lies in restrictive planning regulations, where a singular criterion can result in project blockades, leading to reduced approval rates for wind energy sites.
- The second issue about offshore wind power is the lack of personnel and shortage of skilled workforce. The UK government needs to invest in training and skill development to increase offshore wind power in the country.
- The third issue pertains to logistics, as it is challenging to transport the large and heavy components necessary for assembling offshore wind turbines. The government require strategic planning, collaboration, and investment in transportation and installation methods to address it.
In conclusion, the UK ranks 5th in wind energy capacity and 4th in actual production. The government aims to deploy 50 GW of offshore wind power by 2030, with investments of £20 billion in onshore wind farms. Major wind power plants, like Dogger Bank C, Hornsea Project One, Walney Extension, London Array, and Beatrice, play a vital role.
Key industry players and startups, including Ripple Energy, Future Energy Associates, Scottish Power, Ecotricity, and Venterra Group, are shaping the sector’s landscape. Nonetheless, challenges related to planning regulations, workforce shortages, and logistics persist. Overcoming these hurdles demands strategic government initiatives and industry collaboration for a greener, more sustainable future.