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UK Leads World with Plans for 86 GW of Offshore Wind Power Generation

UK has largest pipeline for offshore wind power
UK has the largest pipeline for offshore wind power projects (file photo)

Published Mar 22, 2022 7:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

European countries are moving aggressively to expand their use of offshore wind energy to meet the future needs for power generation. Countries including Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands are pursuing their next phase of offshore projects while the UK, which had the most installed generation capacity until China surpassed it in 2021, is building a massive pipeline of projects.

A new research study reports that the UK’s total pipeline of offshore wind projects now stands at 86 GW, which is more than eight times the country’s entire current operational capacity. According to the wind, wave, and tidal power trade association RenewableUK the UK currently has 10.5 GW in operation and a pipeline of projects under construction, consented, in the planning system or being developed for submission into planning that could reach an additional 76 GW.

“Our latest EnergyPulse report shows that the UK’s world-class offshore wind industry has taken huge strides forward in the past twelve months, with landmark leasing announcements adding an extra 33 GW to our pipeline, and funding for floating wind ringfenced in the current CfD auction to help accelerate the growth of innovative technology,” noted Dan McGrail, Chief Executive of RenewableUK. “It’s clear that offshore wind will be doing the heavy lifting as we secure our clean home-grown energy supplies and move faster towards independence from unstable fossil fuel imports.”

According to the report, the 60 percent increase over the past 12 months is being driven by massive leasing round announcements by The Crown Estate (8 GW) and Crown Estate Scotland (25 GW). To support the planned growth in power generation, the report projects that the average turbine capacity will increase from 8-9 MW this year to 14-15 MW by 2025.

Elsewhere in Europe, other countries are also seeking to accelerate future plans. Norway recently defined two far offshore locations that could be used both to expand the country’s capacity as well as create export power. Germany’s new chancellor’s government has begun efforts to define more offshore sites while in the Netherlands the government defined additional zones that would lead to a doubling of capacity by the end of this decade.

“The global offshore wind market is also continuing to grow at a phenomenal rate with an extra 200 GW added to the pipeline over the last year,” said McGrail. “As the UK was an early mover in offshore wind, we’re in a prime position to capitalize on our expertise as a market leader which is highly sought after worldwide”.

RenewableUK’s latest EnergyPulse report shows that the total global offshore wind pipeline has reached 517 GW. China currently has the most capacity fully operational with a reported 24 GW after large increases in 2021. The UK is currently second in its installed capacity but has a larger total pipeline of 86 GW versus China’s reported plans for 75 GW. The U.S. is in third place with 48 GW in its pipeline.