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Can the UK become the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind power’?

Can the UK become the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind power’?
October 20, 2020 Andrea Mariano

Background 

During a discussion at the UN in New York, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that the UK held “extraordinary potential” for wind energy and could become the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind power'[1]. 

In 2019 the UK ranked 6th globally for installed wind capacity of 20.7GW and had six of the ten highest-capacity offshore wind projects in the world[2].

wind power

Figure 1: Wind turbines. 

Wind Potential Resource

The UK has one, if not the best, wind resource in the European region with wind speeds above 7.5m/s on land and speeds above 9.5m/s on sea. These strong wind speeds are ideal for the deployment of wind turbines. 

wind power

Figure 2: Average wind speed across Europe[3]

UK targets 

The UK has an ambitious target of quadrupling its current offshore wind capacity to 40GW by 2030. The current portfolio for of wind generation (already installed and to be constructed) in the UK has the potential to deliver 38.1GW. Data shows that it is the most ambitious portfolio in the world[5]. 

CfD Third Auction

In 2019 the third round of contracts for difference (CfD – a mechanism to allocate new large scale renewable energy projects) has taken place. This time the government reintroduced mature technologies (e.g. solar, wind) to compete. The auction awarded circa 6GW of Renewable Energy projects. Wind capacity, mainly offshore wind, accounted for 5.7GW. 

The awarded wind capacity is circa 1/3 of the existing overall wind capacity deployed in the UK.  This shows an increase in the existing capacity of circa 30%, which is expected to be delivered by 2025[4].

Furthermore, the UK is planning to deliver 29.5GW in the next 9 years, which is a remarkable target considering that China and the US are only planning to deliver 20.6GW and 17.8GW respectively[5]. 

Conclusions

The UK has an ambitious target for the wind energy sector this is supported by the good wind resource present. However, to deliver the planned capacity, policy support and cooperation across various stakeholders is essential.  

About Pager Power

Pager Power has expertise in helping wind developers assess impacts of both offshore and onshore wind farms for aviation, telecommunications, and supporting developers through the planning process by assisting with the engagement of stakeholders. For more information about what we do, please get in touch.

References

[1] Boris Johnson wants UK to be ‘Saudi Arabia of wind power, The Telegraph, 25/09/2020, last access: 02/10/2020.
[2] The top 10 countries in the world by wind energy capacity, Jack Unwin, date: 14/03/2019, last access: 02/10/2020.
[3] Global Wind Atlas, n.d., last access: 03/10/2020.
[4] Auctions for the support of renewable energy in the UK, Aures 2, date: 09/2019, last access: 03/10/2020.
[5] Renewable UK Project Intelligence, RenewableUK, date: 10/2020, last access: 03/10/2020.

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