Wind power generation only works in places that have enough natural wind that the kinetic energy can be converted into electricity. Fortunately, over a third of the wind blowing through Europe reaches the UK.
Currently, the UK generates less than 20 percent of its total energy requirement using wind power through a combination of both onshore and offshore wind turbines. Now the government has announced that they’re strongly pursuing their previously stated goal of having 30 percent of the UK’s National Grid usage derived from renewable sources (with the other two-thirds coming from nuclear power and gas power sources).
How Large is the New Investment in Wind Power?
Up until now, the biggest wind farm in Whitelee was up in Scotland with its 539-megawatt capacity enough to power around 300,000 homes. A larger Hornsea Project Two will be ready in 2022. It’s expected to be the largest in the world with a 1,386 megawatts capacity.
The government expects to see £250m invested in new wind power projects spread over the coming 11 years. This is good news for local coastal economies in Cornwall and Northern Scotland where the wind turbines tend to be installed to catch the gusts of wind before they head inland, where they’re reduced in force by man-made obstacles in their path. The additional investment should see the achievement of the stated 30 percent renewal power goal.
Falling Cost of Wind Power Generation
Getting the green light for new projects is likely substantially easier than it was in the past.
Finding suitable places with available land to install an onshore wind farm is no easy task. There’s limited supply and sometimes regulatory issues or complaints from local environmentalists too. It’s actually easier to install offshore wind farms than onshore ones for this reason, but it’s expensive to do so and the power is dearer to generate too.
Onshore wind generation current costs around £65/megawatt hour but is expected to fall to £46/megawatt hour by 2022 when the largest installation is finalised. With offshore wind, the estimated costs have fallen even more from a current £120/megawatt hour to an estimated £58/megawatt hour by 2022. This will make offshore wind farms more competitive with their onshore counterparts, without the difficulty of locating suitable land.
National Grid Connection
Existing wind turbines are connected to the National Grid. They’re very environmentally friendly with zero carbon emissions during operation. Even though onshore farms only operate 28 percent of the time and offshore ones are used 39 percent of the time, they still generate enough electricity to be worthwhile.
Wind turbines last longer than solar panels. A wind turbine’s average lifespan is over two decades. It’s a fact that there are more than 8,500 turbines hooked up to the National Grid supplying power to homes and businesses across the UK. There are far more onshore wind projects than offshore installations, but the offshore ones are more substantial, currently.
As the use of coal to generate power has declined, the use of renewable resources is an increasing focus for power generation in the UK. This is great news for a cleaner environment and it will reduce the ongoing concern over global warming.