The UK has overtaken Denmark to become the world leader in offshore wind farms, according to new figures.
With the completion of Centrica’s Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farms near Skegness in the northeast of England, the UK now has a total of 597.8 MW built offshore wind farms compared to Denmark’s 423 MW.
“Overtaking Denmark is just the start,” said Mike O’Brien of the Department of Energy and Climate Change. “There are already five more offshore wind farms under construction that will add a further 938 MW to our total by the end of next year.”
He added that the Government is considering plans to increase this total by 25 GW in the future, which would be enough to supply electricity to every home in the UK. The country currently generates 3 GW from wind power, of which offshore wind farms make up 20%.
Consent has also been given to Centrica’s new 250 MW offshore wind farm off the Lincolnshire coast east of Skegness, announced O’Brien.
The Carbon Trust welcomed the announcement, and unveiled its own plans to boost offshore wind in the UK by teaming up with five energy companies.
Together with DONG Energy (Denmark), Airtricity Developments (UK), RWE Innogy (Germany), ScottishPower Renewables (UK) and StatoilHydro (Norway), the Carbon Trust is launching a research, development and demonstration initiative aimed at bringing down the costs of offshore wind energy by 10%.
According to the Carbon Trust, the costs of offshore wind projects have more than doubled over the last five years. The lack of vessels available to install equipment, high demand for turbines, and grid connection issues have all hampered the expansion of offshore wind capacity.
“High costs and risks [are] seriously holding back deployment,” says Mark Williamson of the Carbon Trust. “We’ve identified a range of opportunities to reduce costs, increase performance and improve the economic viability of offshore wind farms.”
The five-year, £30 million Offshore Wind Accelerator will focus on developing novel foundations for offshore wind farms and access systems to improve construction and operation. The initiative will also look at wake effects and ways of maximising the efficiency of electrical transmission systems.
“The UK has an amazing opportunity not just to lead the world but to be the dominant global player,” said chief executive of the Carbon Trust, Tom Delay. “Our research shows that by 2020 the UK market could represent almost half of the global market for offshore wind power.”
The initiative hopes to start on large-scale demonstration projects in 2010.
“Reducing the cost of offshore wind, especially in current economic circumstances, is vital,” says Kevin McCullough, COO of RWE Innogy. “As the industry expands into deeper waters conditions will inevitably be more challenging.”
Facts and figures
UK must rethink offshore wind strategy, says Carbon Trust (15-Oct)
22 October 2008