The wind energy industry in the UK has reached a momentous milestone with 5GW of installed wind energy capacity or the equivalent of enough power to supply close to 3 million homes.
The 5GW barrier has been achieved by the commissioning of two major wind farm developments – the expansion of Fred.Olsen Renewables’ Crystal Rig wind farm in the Scottish borders with a total generating capacity of 200 megawatts (MW) and Vattenfall’s 300MW Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, the world’s biggest.
Five gigawatts of wind represents 4% of the UK’s annual electricity consumption, with other renewables contributing around 5%.
“Five gigawatts is an important milestone for two reasons: it takes us within reach of our 2010 targets on renewable electricity, while showing that each successive gigawatt takes less and less time to deploy. Renewable energy generally and wind energy in particular is not alternative energy any longer – it is absolutely mainstream,” says Maria McCaffery MBE, chief executive of RenewableUK, the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries.
The UK currently has nearly 18GW of wind capacity either consented, in construction or in the planning system. When this is added to the existing 5GW of built capacity, it represents more than a third of the country’s current annual energy consumption.
This follows on from the news that for the first time ever on 6th September, 10% of the electricity supplied to UK consumers was generated from wind in a 24 hour period.
The first gigawatt, which was achieved five years ago took 14 years to deploy from 1991 to 2005. Since then the UK has installed four more gigawatts and going forward the industry expects to be bringing around two gigawatts on stream each year until the middle of the decade. By 2020 it expects to see over 30GW deployed both on and offshore.