Onshore, Project Development, Wind Power

UK Powers Up 1000th Wind Turbine

Britain’s wind industry reached a symbolic landmark as the 1000th commercial wind turbine in the UK was commissioned. Although still a modest achievement compared to Germany’s almost 14,000 machines and Denmark’s 6,500 turbines, the breakthrough is expected to be swiftly followed by the 2000th wind turbine.

London, England – January 27, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The UK’s latest wind farm, Moel Maelogen in North Wales, which includes the 1000th turbine, has been a long time coming for its developers, three local farmers, who as far back as 1998 realized that wind power could help revitalize their ailing farm business. “Wind power will give us a steady income,” said Rheinallt Williams of Cwmni Gwynt Teg Cyf. Not content with building their own wind farm, they are now also offering their development services to other local farmers looking to switch their crops to wind. “We’ve always seen the future for wind energy as involving every size of company, from the multi-nationals to the smallest of local businesses,” said Nick Goodall, CEO of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). “It therefore gives me particular pleasure to see the commissioning of Moel Maelogen as it embodies proof of both the opportunities for rural diversification and the commitment of the Welsh people to play a leading part in the green energy economy.” Figures from BWEA show that after a slow start, deployment of wind energy across the UK is rapidly building up speed in the move toward a clean and green energy economy. “It took us 11 years to get to 1000 turbines, but we’re now predicting that the 2000th turbine is likely to be commissioned within two years,” said Goodall. “The next 450 onshore turbines already have planning permission, as do the first 90 offshore turbines.” As the government gets ready to publish its recommendations for the energy mix in 2020 it seems increasingly likely that as much as 15 percent of UK electricity will come from an estimated 8000 wind turbines, the majority deployed offshore. Already over 400 MW of onshore wind has planning permission and is scheduled for construction over the next two years. Meanwhile the offshore industry has consent for 266 MW and is likely to see the announcement of many more thousands of megawatts this year alone. Opponents to wind energy have criticized wind turbines as producing a fraction of the output of a traditional power plant, and have talked about tens of thousands of onshore turbines covering the countryside. BWEA calls this alarmist propaganda. Advances in turbine design (the first commercial wind turbines installed in the UK in 1991 were modest 400 kW models) mean that the latest turbines are ten times as powerful, with capacities of as much as 3 MW per unit or more. The new class of machines means that even relatively small wind farms can make significant contributions to electricity supplies. The UK’s total wind capacity now stands at 1003 turbines generating 555.8 MW of power, equivalent to 1.46 TWh, or the annual electricity needs of just under four hundred thousand households each year. As every unit of electricity generated from a wind farm displaces one which would otherwise be generated from conventional power plant, wind turbines in the UK currently prevent the emission of over one and a quarter million tones of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide each year.