Why Do We Need Wind Energy? Our energy needs are changing, and so is the way we are meeting them. The UK has a legally binding commitment to continue dramatically reducing its greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades; and energy production is the biggest current source of these emissions. Not only does burning fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases, but fossil fuel reserves are a finite resource and increasingly need to be imported from overseas. The wind, in contrast, is freely available and endlessly renewable; and the UK has more wind than any country in mainland Europe. As onshore wind technologies have matured, onshore wind has also become the lowest cost form of new large-scale electricity generation in the UK – cheaper than gas and almost half the price per kWh of new nuclear power stations.
Whilst energy efficiency is increasing, changes such as the growth in use of electric cars and the increasing use of electricity as a source of heat are also likely to increase the need for electricity into the future. Generating electricity from the wind now provides, and will continue to provide in the future, a secure, affordable, renewable and low carbon way of meeting the UKвs energy needs. How Does A Wind Turbine Work? Click to find out and also see how the technology has developed over the years.
Britain accounted for more than half of the new offshore wind power capacity built in last year, as the sector broke installation records across the continent. The windfarms out in the North Sea and other shallow European waters are getting bigger in every sense. Soon turbines will almost be as large as the Shard, EuropeБs tallest building.
The average capacity of the 500-plus turbines connected to the grid was up by more than a fifth on the year before, with 17 windfarms on average a third more powerful. What share of the UKБs power comes from offshore windfarms? In total the UK installed 53% of the net 3. 15GW of capacity installed across Europe, which beat the previous record of 2015, according to industry body. France deployed its first offshore turbine Б a single, floating one Б while the Norwegian oil firm Statoil established. The first windfarm designed to withstand icy conditions was built in Finland. Giles Dickson, WindEuropeБs chief executive described last yearБs 25% increase in volume as Бpretty spectacularБ. Costs continue to fall in the near future as manufacturers and windfarm developers deploy ever-bigger turbines, he said.
At present, developers are opting for 8MW-9MW turbines but by 2023 and 2024 that will have climbed to 13MW-15MW, the industry believes. БAnd weБll be beyond that in the next decade, thereБs no reason to think we wonБt,Б said Dickson, adding that turbine manufacturers are not yet nearing physical limits on size. It is forecast that 2018 will be another record-breaking year for new capacity, driven largely by delayed windfarms in UK waters. At present, there is a cumulative capacity of 15. 78GW of offshore wind, which is predicted to reach 25GW by 2020. Longer term, the UK is expected to retain its top spot by 2030, followed by Germany, the Netherlands, and France taking fourth spot from Denmark as it invests in floating turbines.
Offshore wind has been largely supported by government auctions of a guaranteed price of power to developers. In the UK they fell to, although the sector will need such top-up contracts for years to come. The worldБs first floating offshore windfarm at Stord, Norway. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images Separately, ministers were urged by 10 groups to reveal plans for supporting small-scale renewables, such as solar panels on household and business rooftops. The current feed-in tariff scheme by the UK government, and is due to end in 2019. The government is exploring how to encourage small-scale, low carbon power but has yet to publish its plans. The uncertainty is hitting investor confidence, said groups representing the big six energy firms, landowners and the renewables industry.