UK Offshore Wind Installations Forecast to Soar

New analysis reveals that the UK continues to lead the global market in terms of offshore wind power capacity, with significant growth forecast through 2020 and set to drive installations from the 3.7 GW in 2013 to 11 GW by then.

According to a report from research firm GlobalData, the UK market — supported by aggressive renewable targets, policy backing and concerns over climate change and energy system security — has secured more than half of the total global installed capacity of offshore wind to date.

The UK’s offshore wind power has expanded at an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 42.9 percent from 2006-2013, says GlobalData, which further forecasts installation growth of 16.9 percent CAGR through 2020. As a result, the UK is anticipated to lead the offshore wind power market by the end of the forecast period, boasting a 36.4 percent share of the global cumulative offshore installed capacity.

Swati Singh, a GlobalData analyst, noted: “The UK’s growing concerns over climate change and the security of its energy system will provide sufficient impetus for the country’s offshore wind industry to continue its growth trajectory. The last decade has seen offshore wind progress from an immature to a proven technology, which is expected to contribute significantly to the achievement of the UK’s renewable targets.”

Singh added: “Overall project costs have risen as a result of increasing water depths, distance from the shore and average turbine size. With a number of UK installations anticipated between 2016 and 2020, annual investment in the market will jump from $3.3 billion in 2013 to $7.53 billion by 2020.”

The UK government has set a target for 15 percent of the country’s total primary energy to be generated from renewable sources by 2020 and as offshore wind power currently contributes around 3 percent of the country’s total energy generation, GlobalData expects to see more investment into the in the coming years.

Siemens continues to dominate the manufacturers in terms of offshore capacity installed, accounting for almost 56.5 percent of the world’s cumulative2013 installed capacity.

In a related development, National Grid statistics reveal that August was an exceptional month for wind energy, with new records set and generation levels exceeding both nuclear and coal. On 17th August on- and offshore wind set a new record by providing 22 percent of the UK’s total electricity demand and averaging close to 5.8 GW.

“Wind energy is taking its place as the UK’s new powerhouse, overtaking coal and nuclear as one of the most important resources we have to keep Britain’s lights on. It continues to surpass its own records, and these figures prove that can happen at any time of year,” said RenewableUK’s Director of External Affairs, Jennifer Webber. “As we approach autumn and winter, we can expect wind to maintain this strong August’s performance and provide electricity when demand is especially high.”

Indeed, according to UK government statistics released at the end of July, electricity generated from renewable sources in the UK in 2013 increased by 30 percent on a year earlier, and accounted for 14.9 percent of total UK electricity generation, up from 11.3 percent in 2012.

Offshore wind generation increased by 50 percent, and onshore wind increased by 40 percent. Both the offshore and onshore wind load factors, at 37.5 percent and 27.9 percent, respectively, exceeded or equalled that of gas’ 27.9 percent.

Lead image: Offshore wind via Shutterstock

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David Appleyard is a contributing editor. Formerly Editor in Chief of Renewable Energy World and sister renewable energy magazines Wind Technology, Large Scale Solar and HRW - Hydro Review Worldwide, now a freelance journalist and photographer contributing to a wide range of on-line and print publications. David has some 20 years' experience of writing about the renewable energy sector and is based in Europe.

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