Today 23rd September 2010 marks the official opening of the Thanet Wind Farm. This is now the worlds largest offshore wind farm, but won’t be for long as bigger ones are in the pipeline. With 100 x 3 MW turbines this 300 MW project has been developed by Vattenfall at a cost of nearly £900 million. The UK now has more installed offshore wind capacity than all the rest of the world put together, which is truly remarkable, but somewhat spoilt by the fact that we’ve no indigenous wind industry. Early adopters such as Denmark, Germany and Sweden are now reaping the benefits as their companies are developing our resource.
A press release issued today by RenewableUK says that as of today with the Thanet windfarm the UK will have 5,056 MW of installed wind capacity, of which 1,341 is offshore and 3,715 is onshore. This represents about 4% of UK generation, but as growth is relatively rapid wind is set to overtake nuclear by 2013. RenewableUK also point out that on average UK wind turbines actually deliver about 50% more electricity per turbine than those in Germany due to our windier climate. However Germany has 21,315 turbines installed compared with the UK’s 3,076. This is due to longstanding political support for wind in Germany, which sadly has been absent in the UK. In the UK we have vast wind potential. Offshore turbines don’t evoke the passionate opposition that most onshore turbines seem to, so let’s go ahead with massive investment in UK offshore wind. Ideally we’d have the indigenous industry and cooperative ownership that the Danes seem to manage: if we can create these, so much the better. Today we should celebrate the opening of the Thanet Wind Farm: one small step towards a “Renewable World”.