UK Wind Capacity Surpasses Gas for the First Time
Posted 14/09/2023 12:53
In a significant milestone for renewable energy, the United Kingdom now boasts more installed wind capacity than any other form of power station, surpassing gas for the first time. According to an analysis conducted by Imperial College London for Drax Electric Insights, the UK's wind farms have reached 28.9 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, overtaking combined cycle gas power stations, which have 28.7 GW of capacity.
This achievement marks a historic shift away from a century of reliance on fossil fuel infrastructure. The UK becomes the fifth country in the world, joining Denmark, Spain, Ireland, and Finland, to have more wind capacity than any other type of power station.
Gas had been the largest source of power capacity in the UK for the past decade, while coal held the top position from the Victorian era until 2011 when it began a sharp decline in capacity, dropping from 28 GW to just 2 GW.
The transition has been driven by the rapid growth of wind farms, with capacity tripling over the past decade. The UK's current wind capacity is evenly split between onshore (14.1 GW) and offshore (13.8 GW). England hosts half of this capacity, with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland sharing the rest.
Approximately £60 billion ($74.9 billion) has been invested in wind farms over the past two decades, equivalent to nearly £1,000 for every person in the UK. Of this investment, around £21 billion went into onshore wind farms, while approximately £39 billion was directed towards offshore projects.
Although there have been fluctuations in the rate of new wind farm installations, the average annual capacity added since 2009 has remained around 2 GW. The year 2020 saw a temporary slowdown due to factors like the onshore wind ban and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, 2021 witnessed a resurgence in project completions, with large-scale projects like Hornsea Two, Moray East, and Triton Knoll coming online.
Currently, the UK has about 6.7 GW of wind farms under construction, and it boasts an impressive pipeline of 98 GW of offshore wind in planning, making it the second-largest such pipeline in the world, surpassed only by China. This continued growth underscores the UK's commitment to renewable energy and its transition away from fossil fuels.