The UK offshore industry enjoyed one of its most successful years ever in 2012, with nine wind farms fully connected to the National Grid.
According to a new report from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), 854MW of capacity to generate clean electricity were installed last year, bringing the total UK offshore wind capacity to 2.9GW. This is enough to power 1.9 million households in Britain and is way ahead of its neighbouring countries installations, with 73% of the total offshore wind capacity installed in Europe.
Welcoming the news, Nick Medic, Director of Offshore Renewables at RenewableUK said: “This report clearly demonstrates phenomenal progress in the UK’s offshore wind sector over the past year. It also provides further proof that major companies and investors have recognised the scale of opportunity offered by the UK’s tremendous natural offshore wind resource. We’re the go-to destination for the offshore wind sector.”
He added the offshore wind industry is continuing to attract investment and could create more than 47,000 jobs by 2021.
The report also showed Europe installed a record-breaking 1,165MW in offshore wind capacity last year, with 293 turbines installed and connected to the grid, bringing the total to 1,662 turbines. However, the number is behind the target as a total of 4,994MW offshore wind capacity is currently producing electricity in Europe but EU countries had aimed to install 5,829MW by the end of 2012.
Justin Wilkes, EWEA Policy Director said: “Offshore wind power is growing solidly. But solid installation figures do not alter the fact that the wind industry is being hit by political and regulatory instability, the economic crisis, the higher cost of capital and austerity. Europe is a world leader in offshore wind energy and could be creating even more jobs if Governments gave greater policy certainty to investors and resolved grid connection problems.”
The second largest amount of installations last year was in Belgium (185MW or 16%), followed by Germany (80MW or 7%) and Denmark (46.8MW or 4%). France did not have a single turbine installed at the end of last year despite setting a target of 667MW. According to the EWEA, there are 5,538MW of offshore wind energy capacity installed worldwide, 90% of which is in Europe, making the region by far the world leader in offshore wind.