In the UK, renewable energies are an important part of the climate change strategy and are strongly supported by a green certificate system (with an obligation on suppliers to purchase a certain percentage of electricity from renewable energy sources) and several grant programs. With 752 MW grid connected in British waters in 2011, a total of 87 % of new capacity was added. The UK is by far the largest market for offshore wind power with 2,094 MW installed, representing over half of all installed offshore wind capacity in Europe.
Growth has been mainly driven by the development of significant wind energy capacity, including offshore wind farms. The UK’s energy policy regarding renew- able energy sources consists of four key strands:
• Obligatory targets with tradable green certificate system (a renewables obligation on all electricity suppliers in Great Britain). The non-compliance ‘buy- out’ price for 2006/2007 was set at £33.24 per MWh, which will be annually adjusted in line with the retail price index;
• The climate change levy: The use of new renewable energy sources for the generation of electricity is exempt from the climate change levy on electricity of £ 4.3 per MWh;
• Grants schemes: Funds are reserved from the New Opportunities Fund for new capital grants for investments in energy crops/biomass power generation (at least £33 million or €53 million over three years), for small-scale biomass/CHP heating (£3 million or €5 million), and planting grants for energy crops (£29 million for a period of seven years). A £50 million fund, the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund, is available for the development of wave and tidal power;
• Development of a regional strategic approach for planning/targets for renewable energies. Annual compliance periods run from April 1 to March 31 the following year.
The use of new renewable energy sources for the generation of electricity target to be achieved by the UK in 2010 is 10 % of gross electricity consumption. An indicative target of 20 % for renewable energy source for 2020 has been set. After a relatively stable share in the early 2000s, growth over the past years has been significant.
The renewable energy source more readily available in the UK is wind energy, as the islands have 40 % of the wind resources in Europe. However, only a small part is the same, producing around 1,100 turbines with a maximum of 1,090 MW of electricity, according to the British Wind Energy Association. To meet government targets would create about 7,000 MW of power distributed between marine and terrestrial wind farms. The UK enjoys one of the wind resources higher in Europe and since 2002 is developing an ambitious renewable energy policy in the region.
Despite the fact that the UK has the best wind regime of any country in Europe, the growth of its market has been hampered in the past by a mixture of opposition to development at a local level and a lack of a clear government policy. According to the British Wind Energy Association’s latest annual survey, “roughly 3,965 MWe of capacity on and offshore is consented, but has not yet gone forward to construction and a very large capacity onshore—equivalent to approximately 6 % of the UK total electricity supply is awaiting determination.”
However, the UK is now moving fast to develop its offshore wind capacity. In April 2001, it accepted bids for sites designed to produce 1,500 MWe of wind- generating capacity. In December 2003, the government took bids for 15 addi- tional offshore sites with a generating capacity that could exceed 7,000 MWe. Requiring an investment of over US$12 billion, these wind farms off the East and Northwest coasts of England, the North coast of Wales, and in the shallow waters of the Thames estuary could satisfy the residential electricity needs of 10 mil- lion of the country’s 60 million people. Nevertheless, this goal could be affected because of the following. According to recent press reports, the UK government is reconsidering the establishment of new wind farms in the coastal zones of Wales due to the opposition of the air force. A study carried out by the air force in the Northumberland and Scottish regions had demonstrated that the establishment of new wind farms in these regions would interfere with the work of the military radar in operation in these zones, putting in danger the security of the British island.
Wind power is the second largest source of renewable energy in the UK after biomass. The wind energy sector in the UK is continuing to grow at a respectable pace, based on the most recent figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Wind power rose to provide about 7.7 % of the UK’s electricity in 2013 up from 5.5 % in 2012, a 38 % year-on-year increase. According to Renewable UK, in 2014, there were 646 projects in the wind power
sector with a total of 5,597 turbines26 in operation and with a total installed capacity of 11,094 MW (7,441 MW onshore and 3,653 MW offshore). The total electricity generated by these wind farms in that year was sufficient to provide electricity to an estimated 6,360,979 homes. Renewable UK estimates that more than 2 GW of capacity will be deployed per year for the next five years. On September 6, 2010, a historical peak of 1,860 MW was recorded from these wind farms accounting for 4.7 % of total generation at the time. Throughout 2009, an average 2.5 % of UK electricity was generated by wind power (with a total of around 6.7 % of UK electricity coming from all renewable sources.) This is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years, as a result of the UK government’s energy policy strongly supporting new renewable energy-generating capacity. In the short-to-medium term, the bulk of this new capacity is expected to be provided by onshore and offshore wind power.
In 2007, the UK government agreed to an overall EU target of generating 20 % of EU’s energy supply from renewable energy sources by 2020. Each EU member state was given its own allocated target; in the UK, it is 15 % (see Table 5.32). This was formalized in January 2009 with the passage of the EU directive on renewable. As renewable heat and fuel production in the UK are at extremely low bases, the government estimates that this will require between 35 and 40 % of the UK’s electricity to be generated from renewable energy sources by that date, to be met largely by 33–35 GW of installed wind capacity.
In December 2007, the government announced plans for a massive expansion of wind energy in the UK, by conducting a Strategic Environmental Assessment of up to 25 GW worth of wind farm offshore sites in preparation for a new round of development. These proposed sites are in addition to the 8 GW worth of sites already awarded in the two earlier rounds of site allocations, Round 1 in 2001 and round 2 in 2003. Taken together, it is estimated that this would result in the construction of over 7,000 offshore wind turbines.
The UK has an overall 15 % renewable target for 2020, up from just over 1 % in 2005, and its NREAP expects the target to be met. The largest contribution to the overall target is expected from the power sector (30 % of total electricity con- sumption). The document forecasts that around 70 % renewable electricity in consumption will come from onshore and offshore wind, with onshore wind rep- resenting 9 % of total electricity consumption and offshore wind 12 %. To achieve this, the NREAP foresees an increasing build-out of onshore projects from the beginning of the period until 2018, followed by a slightly smaller—yet still over 1 GW net—onshore market for 2019 and 2020. Cumulative capacity in 2020 is esti- mated at almost 15 GW. For offshore, on the other hand, the NREAP assumes a
constant increase in the annual market from just under 600 MW net in 2011 to almost 1,700 MW net annually in 2020, to reach a cumulative target of 13 GW. Both projections are broadly in line with EWEA’s scenario; however, the scenario, unlike the NREAP, does not expect more capacity onshore than offshore. The NREAP, therefore, seems to lack offshore ambition, where the national wind industry body, Renewable UK, considers 20 GW of offshore capacity an achievable target for 2020.
Finally, it is important to highlight that the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change approved in June 2014 the East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm,27 paving the way for the construction of the world’s largest wind farm. The approximately 240 turbines would have an installed capacity of 1,200 MW, more than double the size of the London Array, the largest offshore wind farm currently in existence. That group of turbines has an installed capacity of 630 MW.
5.30.1 Generation of Electricity Using Wind Energy
The evolution of the generation of electricity using wind energy in the UK during the period 2008–2012 is shown in Fig. 5.47.
According to Fig. 5.47, the generation of electricity in the UK using wind energy during the period 2008–2012 increased almost threefold. It is expected that the generation of electricity in the UK using this type of energy source will con- tinue increasing during the coming years.