The UK has hit a historic milestone, with the opening of the Walney wind farm extension, making it capable of generating 20 gigawatts (20,000 megawatts) through wind power.
The opening of Ørsted’s 659MW Walney Extension off the coast of Cumbria this month pushed the total amount over the 20GW mark. The total operational capacity of onshore and offshore wind in the UK currently stands at 20,128MW, which is enough to meet the annual power needs of more than 14 million homes, cutting carbon emissions by 25 million tonnes a year.
Wind is the UK’s largest source of renewable electricity, accounting for half of the 30% of power that came from renewables in 2017.
This new milestone coincides with the 40th anniversary of the founding of the wind industry trade body RenewableUK, which originally founded as the British Wind Energy Association by a group of engineers and academics meeting at the Rutherford Laboratory in Oxfordshire in November 1978.
Commenting on the milestone, RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said: “It took 19 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 wind farm 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.”