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23 April 2010

UK offshore wind breezes through 1GW barrier

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Wind farms at Gunfleet Sands and Robin Rigg mean the UK can now power up to 700,000 homes

The UK cemented its position as the leading player in the global offshore wind energy market today with the announcement that it has attained one gigawatt of installed offshore wind capacity.

Trade association RenewableUK said that the completion of Dong Energy's Gunfleet Sands offshore wind farm and E.ON's Robin Rigg development means that the UK now boasts 11 working offshore wind farms, featuring 336 wind turbines capable of generating power for up to 700,000 homes.

The association said that the rapidly expanding sector was also poised to accelerate further, with more than 40GW of capacity now at various stages of the development pipeline. Most notably, around 30GW of capacity is expected to be delivered through the recently awarded Round 3 projects, the first of which are expected to come online during the second half of the decade.

"The UK offshore wind industry has come of age," said Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK. "In the last 10 years we have built a brand new world-leading industry sector that will create long-term value for this country. "

She added that the UK wind energy industry now had the foundations in place to build a "position of global leadership" and establish a flourishing supply chain that will create jobs and provide a major boost to the country's emerging marine energy industry.

The landmark was welcomed by each of the three main political parties, which each vowed to deliver policies that would accelerate the expansion of the offshore wind industry.

The landmark comes a day after new figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) suggested that the UK's oft-criticised wind farm planning system is not so bad compared to some of its European neighbours.

The trade association reported that on average it takes 42 months to get building consent for a wind farm in the EU, compared with an average 27-month wait in the UK.


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