Wind power in the United Kingdom

Two of the wind turbines at the Black Law Wind Farm in Scotland

The UK is one of the best locations for wind power in the world, and is considered to be the best in Europe.[1][2] Wind power contributed 11% of UK electricity generation in 2015, and 17% in December 2015.[3] Allowing for the costs of pollution, particularly the carbon emissions of other forms of production, onshore wind power is the cheapest form of energy in the United Kingdom.[4]

Wind power delivers a growing percentage of the energy in the United Kingdom and at the beginning of December 2016, it consisted of 7,029 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 14.2 gigawatts: 9,155 megawatts of onshore capacity and 5,098 megawatts of offshore capacity.[5] This placed the United Kingdom at this time as the world's sixth largest producer of wind power (behind 1. China, 2. USA, 3. Germany, 4. India and 5. Spain), having overtaken France and Italy in 2012.[6] Polling of public opinion consistently shows strong support for wind power in the UK, with nearly three quarters of the population agreeing with its use, even for people living near onshore wind turbines.[7][8][9][10][11][12]

In 2015, 40.4 TW·h of energy was generated by wind power, and the quarterly generation record was set in the three-month period from October to December 2015, with 13% of the nation’s electricity demand met by wind.[13] 2015 saw 1.2 GW of new wind power capacity brought online, a 9.6% increase of the total UK installed capacity. Three large offshore wind farms came on stream in 2015, Gwynt y Môr (576 MW max. capacity), Humber Gateway (219 MW) and Westermost Rough (210 MW).

Through the Renewables Obligation, British electricity suppliers are now required by law to provide a proportion of their sales from renewable sources such as wind power or pay a penalty fee. The supplier then receives a Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) for each MW·h of electricity they have purchased.[14] Within the United Kingdom, wind power is the largest source of renewable electricity, and the second largest source of renewable energy after biomass.[15] However, the UK's Conservative government is opposed to onshore wind power and has attempted to cancel existing subsidies for onshore wind turbines a year early from April 2016, although the House of Lords have struck these changes down.[16]

Overall, wind power raises costs of electricity slightly. In 2015, it was estimated that the use of wind power in the UK had added £18 to the average yearly electricity bill.[17] This was the additional cost to consumers of using wind to generate about 9.3% of the annual total (see table below) – about £2 for each 1%. Nevertheless, offshore wind power is significantly more expensive than onshore, which raises costs. Offshore wind projects completed in 2012–14 had a levelised cost of electricity of £131/MWh compared to a wholesale price of £40–50/MWh; the industry hopes to get the cost down to £100/MWh for projects approved in 2020.[18]


Blyth's "windmill" at his cottage in Marykirk in 1891

The world's first electricity generating wind turbine was a battery charging machine installed in July 1887 by Scottish academic James Blyth to light his holiday home in Marykirk, Scotland.[19] It was in 1951 that the first utility grid-connected wind turbine to operate in the United Kingdom was built by John Brown & Company in the Orkney Islands.[19][20] In the 1970s, industrial scale wind generation was first proposed as an electricity source for the United Kingdom; the higher working potential of offshore wind was recognised with a capital cost per kilowatt estimated at £150 to £250.[21]

In 2007 the United Kingdom Government agreed to an overall European Union target of generating 20% of the EU’s energy supply from renewable sources by 2020. Each EU member state was given its own allocated target: for the United Kingdom it is 15%. This was formalised in January 2009 with the passage of the EU Renewables Directive. As renewable heat and renewable fuel production in the United Kingdom are at extremely low bases, RenewableUK estimates that this will require 35–40% of the United Kingdom's electricity to be generated from renewable sources by that date,[22] to be met largely by 33–35 gigawatts (GW) of installed wind capacity.

In December 2007, the Government announced plans for an expansion of wind energy in the United Kingdom, by conducting a Strategic Environmental Assessment of up to 25 GW worth of wind farm offshore sites in preparation for a new round of development. These proposed sites are in addition to the 8 GW worth of sites already awarded in the 2 earlier rounds of site allocations, Round 1 in 2001 and Round 2 in 2003. Taken together it is estimated that this would result in the construction of over 7,000 offshore wind turbines.[23]


723 MW of new wind power capacity was brought online during 2011, a 40% decrease on 2010. Only one offshore wind farm, phase 1 of the Walney Wind Farm, was completed in 2011 with a capacity of 183 MW. This compares with a total 653 MW built offshore in 2010. Onshore installations were very similar to the previous year with 540 MW completed: the largest to come on stream was the 120 MW Arecleoch Wind Farm in South Ayrshire. A highlight of 2011 was on 28 December when wind power set a record contribution to the United Kingdom's demand for electricity of 12.2%.[24]


1.8 GW of new wind power capacity was brought online during 2012, a 30% increase of the total UK installed capacity. 2012 was a significant year for the offshore wind industry with 4 large wind farms becoming operational with over 1.1 GW of generating capability coming on stream.[25]

In the year July 2012 to June 2013, offshore wind farms with a capacity of 1,463 MW were installed, for the first time growing faster than onshore wind which grew by 1,258 MW.[26]


2.7 GW of new wind power capacity was brought online during 2013, a 35% increase of the total UK installed capacity. The offshore wind industry continued to develop in 2013 with what was once the largest wind farm in the world, the London Array, becoming operational with over 630 MW of generating capability coming on stream.[27]

In 2013, 27.4 TW·h of energy was generated by wind power, which contributed 8.7% of the UK's electricity requirement.[28]

On 1 August 2013 Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg opened the Lincs Offshore Wind Farm. On commissioning the total capacity of wind power crossed 10GW of installed capacity for the first time.


In 2014, 28.1 TW·h of energy was generated by wind power (an average of 3.2 GW, about 24% of the 13.5 GW installed capacity at the time), which contributed 9.3% of the UK's electricity requirement.[29] 1.3 GW of new wind power capacity was brought online during 2014, a 12% increase of the total UK installed capacity. The largest wind farms to come on stream in 2014 were Harestanes onshore (136 MW max. capacity) and West of Duddon Sands offshore (389 MW).

Also in 2014, Siemens, the German power and industrial giant, announced plans to build a $264 million facility for making offshore wind turbines in Paull, England, as Britain’s wind power capacity rapidly expands. Siemens chose the Hull area on the east coast of England because it is close to other large offshore projects planned in coming years. The new plant is expected to begin producing turbine rotor blades in 2016. The plant and the associated service center, in Green Port Hull nearby, will employ about 1,000 workers.[30]

Year 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Installed Capacity (MW) 2,974 4,051 5,204 6,540 8,871 10,976 12,440 13,602
Generation (GW·h) 5,357 6,904 7,950 12,675 20,710 24,500 28,100 40,442
% of electricity use 1.50 2.01 2.28 3.81 5.52 7.39 9.30 11

[3] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35]


In 2016 the chief executive of DONG Energy, the UK’s largest windfarm operator, predicted that wind power could supply more than half of the UK’s electricity demand in future. He pointed to the tumbling cost of green energy as evidence that wind and solar could supplant fossil fuels quicker than expected.[36]

Offshore wind farms

Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm.

The United Kingdom became the world leader of offshore wind power generation in October 2008 when it overtook Denmark.[37] It also has the largest offshore wind farm in the world, the 175-turbine London Array wind farm, located off the Kent coast. Currently it has 1,858 MW of operational nameplate capacity, with a further 2,359 MW in construction.[38] The United Kingdom has been estimated to have over a third of Europe's total offshore wind resource, which is equivalent to three times the electricity needs of the nation at current rates of electricity consumption.[39] (In 2010 peak winter demand was 59.3 GW,[40] in summer it drops to about 45 GW). One estimate calculates that wind turbines in one third of United Kingdom waters shallower than 25 metres (82 ft) would, on average, generate 40 GW; turbines in one third of the waters between 25 metres (82 ft) and 50 metres (164 ft) depth would on average generate a further 80 GW, i.e. 120 GW in total).[41] An estimate of the theoretical maximum potential of the United Kingdom's offshore wind resource in all waters to 700 metres (2,300 ft) depth gives the average power as 2200 GW.[42] Offshore wind projects completed in 2010–11 had a levelised cost of electricity of £136/MWh, which fell to £131/MWh for projects completed in 2012–14 and £121/MWh for projects approved in 2012–14; the industry hopes to get the cost down to £100/MWh for projects approved in 2020.[18]

The first developments in United Kingdom offshore wind power came about through the now discontinued Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO), leading to two wind farms, Blyth Offshore and Gunfleet sands.[43] The NFFO was introduced as part of the Electricity Act 1989 and obliged United Kingdom electricity supply companies to secure specified amounts of electricity from non-fossil sources,[44] which provided the initial spur for the commercial development of renewable energy in the United Kingdom.

Round 1

In 1998 the British Wind Energy Association (now RenewableUK) began discussions with the government to draw up formal procedures for negotiating with the Crown Estate, the owner of almost all the United Kingdom coastline out to distance of 12 nautical miles (22.2 km), to build offshore wind farms. The result was a set of guidelines published in 1999, to build "development" farms designed to give developers a chance to gain technical and environmental experience. The projects were limited to 10 square kilometres in size and with a maximum of 30 turbines. Locations were chosen by potential developers and a large number of applications were submitted. Seventeen of the applications were granted permission to proceed in April 2001, in what has become known as Round 1 of United Kingdom offshore wind development.[45]

The first of the Round 1 projects was North Hoyle Wind Farm, completed in December 2003. The final project, Teesside, was completed in August 2013. Twelve Round 1 farms in total are in operation providing a maximum power generating capacity of 1.2 GW. Five sites were withdrawn, including the Shell Flat site off the coast of Lancashire.[46]

Four offshore wind farms are in the Thames Estuary area: Kentish Flats, Gunfleet Sands, Thanet and London Array. The latter is the largest in the world as of April 2013.

Round 2

Lessons learnt from Round 1, particularly the difficulty in getting planning consent for offshore wind farms, together with the increasing pressure to reduce CO2 emissions, prompted the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to develop a strategic framework for the offshore wind industry. This identified three restricted areas for larger scale development, Liverpool Bay, the Thames Estuary and the area beyond the Wash, called the Greater Wash, in the North Sea. Development was prevented in an exclusion zone between 8 and 13 km offshore to reduce visual impact and avoid shallow feeding grounds for sea birds. The new areas were tendered to prospective developers in a competitive bid process known as Round 2. The results were announced in December 2003 with 15 projects awarded with a combined power generating capacity of 7.2 GW. By far the largest of these is the 1.2 GW Triton Knoll.[47] As before a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be needed along with an application for planning consent.

The first of the Round 2 projects was Gunfleet Sands II, completed in April 2010 and six others are now operational including the London Array, the largest wind farm in the world. Four other Round 2 sites are currently under construction.[46]

Round 1 and 2 Extensions

In May 2010 the Crown Estate gave approval for seven Round 1 and 2 sites to be extended creating an additional 2 GW of offshore wind capacity.[48] Each wind farm extension will require a complete new planning application including an Environmental Impact Assessment and full consultation. The sites are:[49]

Round 3

Following on from the Offshore wind SEA announced by the Government in December 2007, the Crown Estate launched a third round of site allocations in June 2008. Round 3 is envisaged on a much bigger scale than either of its predecessors – combined, Rounds 1 and 2 allocated 8 GW of sites, while Round 3 alone could identify up to 25 GW.

The Crown Estate proposed 9 offshore zones, within which a number of individual wind farms would be situated. It ran a competitive tender process to award leases to consortia of potential developers. The bidding closed in March 2009 with over 40 applications from companies and consortia and multiple tenders for each zone. On 8 January 2010 the successful bidders were announced.

Following the allocation of zones, individual planning applications still have to be sought by developers. These are unlikely to be completed before 2012 and as such the first Round 3 projects are not expected to begin generating electricity before 2015.

Round 3 consortia

During the bidding process, there was considerable speculation over which companies had bid for the zones. The Crown Estate did not make the list public and most of the consortia also remained silent. The successful bidders for each zone were eventually announced as follows:[50]

Round 3 wind farms
Zone[51] Zone name Wind farm site names Potential
power (GW)
Developer Notes
1 Moray FirthEastern Development Area 1.3 Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd formed from EDP Renováveis and SeaEnergy Renewables Ltd (SERL)
2 Firth of ForthAlpha/Bravo 3.5 Seagreen Wind Energy Ltd partnership between SSE Renewables and Fluor Ltd. SSE withdrawing support beyond the consent process.
3 Dogger BankCrekye A/B & Teesside A/B/C/D 7.2 Forewind Ltd a consortium made up of SSE Renewables, RWE npower, Statkraft and Statoil.
SSE withdrawing support beyond the consent process.
4 HornseaHeron/Njord/Breesea/Optimus & SPC5/6/7/8 4 SMart Wind Ltd joint venture between Mainstream Renewable Power and Siemens Project Ventures. Later 100% acquired by DONG Energy.
5 East AngliaEast Anglia ONE/THREE/FOUR 7.2 East Anglia Offshore Wind Limited joint venture between ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall AB
6 Southern ArrayRampion 0.6 E.ON Climate & Renewables / UK Southern Array Ltd located south of Hastings in the English Channel
7 West of Isle of WightNavitus Bay 0.9 Eneco Round 3 Development Ltd west of the Isle of Wight; partnership between Eneco and EDF. Planning permission refused by government in September 2015 due to visual impact.[52]
8 Atlantic ArrayAtlantic Array Channel Energy Ltd (Innogy) Withdrawn in November 2013 as "project uneconomic at current time" [53]
9 Irish Sea Celtic Array Celtic Array LimitedWithdrawn in July 2014 due to "challenging ground conditions that make the project economically unviable".[54]
Total 24.7

Scottish offshore

In addition to the 25 GW scoped under the Round 3 SEA, the Scottish Government and the Crown Estate also called for bids on potential sites within Scottish territorial waters. These were originally considered as too deep to provide viable sites, but 17 companies submitted tenders and the Crown Estate initially signed exclusivity agreements with 9 companies for 6 GW worth of sites. Following publication of the Scottish Government's sectoral marine plan for offshore wind energy in Scottish territorial waters in March 2010,[55] six sites were given approval subject to securing detailed consent. Subsequently, 4 sites have been granted agreements for lease.[56]

The complete list of sites including power updates and developer name changes:-

Wind farms in Scottish waters
Site Name Potential
power (MW)
Developer Notes
Beatrice 588 SSE Renewables plc and Talisman Energy SSE owns 40%, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) (35%) and SDIC Power (25%). Application approved by Marine Scotland in March 2014, Construction to begin early 2017[57]
Inch Cape 1000 Repsol Nuevas Energias SA
EDP Renewables
Repsol owns 51%, EDPR owns 49%. Application approved by Marine Scotland in October 2014
Neart Na Gaoithe 450 Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd Application approved by Marine Scotland in October 2014
Islay SSE Renewables No further investment from SSE into the project for the foreseeable future.[58]
Solway Firth E.ON Climate & Renewables UK DevelopmentsDormant – Unsuitable for development
Wigtown Bay DONG Wind (UK) Dormant – Unsuitable for development
Kintyre Airtricity Holdings (UK) Ltd Cancelled due to proximity to local communities and Campbeltown Airport[59]
Forth Array Fred. Olsen Renewables LtdCancelled. Fred. Olsen pulled out to concentrate on its onshore developments[60]
Bell Rock Airtricity Holdings (UK) Ltd
Fluor Ltd
Cancelled due to radar services in the area[61]
Argyll Array Scottish Power Renewables Cancelled due to ground conditions and presence of basking sharks[62]
Total 2,200

List of operational and proposed offshore wind farms

Onshore wind farms

The Ardrossan Wind Farm in North Ayrshire, Scotland

The first commercial wind farm was built in 1991 at Delabole in Cornwall;[129] it consisted of 10 turbines each with a capacity to generate a maximum of 400 kW. Following this, the early 1990s saw a small but steady growth with half a dozen farms becoming operational each year; the larger wind farms tended to be built on the hills of Wales, examples being Rhyd-y-Groes, Llandinam, Bryn Titli and Carno. Smaller farms were also appearing on the hills and moors of Northern Ireland and England. The end of 1995 saw the first commercial wind farm in Scotland go into operation at Hagshaw Hill. The late 1990s saw sustained growth as the industry matured. In 2000 the first turbines capable of generating more than 1 MW were installed and the pace of growth started to accelerate as the larger power companies like Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern became increasingly involved in order to meet legal requirements to generate a certain amount of electricity using renewable means (see Renewables obligations below). Wind turbine development continued rapidly and by the mid-2000s 2 MW+ turbines were the norm. In 2007, the German wind turbine producer Enercon installed the first 6 MW model ("E-126"); The nameplate capacity was changed from 6 MW to 7 MW after technical revisions were performed in 2009, and to 7.5 MW in 2010.

Growth continued with bigger farms and larger, more efficient turbines sitting on taller and taller masts. Scotland's sparsely populated, hilly and windy countryside became a popular area for developers and the United Kingdom's first 100 MW+ farm went operational in 2006 at Hadyard Hill in South Ayrshire.[130] 2006 also saw the first use of the 3 MW turbine. In 2008 the largest onshore wind farm in England was completed on Scout Moor[131] and the repowering of the Slieve Rushen Wind Farm created the largest farm in Northern Ireland.[132] In 2009 the largest wind farm in the United Kingdom went live at Whitelee on Eaglesham Moor in Scotland.[133] This is a 539 MW wind farm consisting of 215 turbines. Approval has been granted to build several more 100 MW+ wind farms on hills in Scotland and will feature 3.6 MW turbines.

As of September 2013, there were 458 operational onshore wind farms in the United Kingdom with a total of 6565 MW of nameplate capacity. A further 1564 MW of capacity is currently being constructed, while another 4.8 GW of schemes have planning consent.[25]

In 2009, United Kingdom onshore wind farms generated 7,564 GW·h of electricity; this represents a 2% contribution to the total United Kingdom electricity generation (378.5 TW·h).[134]

Large onshore wind farms are usually directly connected to the National Grid, but smaller wind farms are connected to a regional distribution network, termed "embedded generation". In 2009 nearly half of wind generation capacity was embedded generation, but this is expected to reduce in future years as larger wind farms are built.[135]

Gaining planning permission for onshore wind farms continues to prove difficult, with many schemes stalled in the planning system, and a high rate of refusal.[136][137] The RenewableUK (formerly BWEA) figures show that there are approximately 7,000 MW worth of onshore schemes waiting for planning permission. On average, a wind farm planning application takes 2 years to be considered by a local authority, with an approval rate of 40%. This compares extremely unfavourably with other types of major applications, such as housing, retail outlets and roads, 70% of which are decided within the 13–16-week statutory deadline; for wind farms the rate is just 6%. Approximately half of all wind farm planning applications, over 4 GW worth of schemes, have objections from airports and traffic control on account of their impact on radar. In 2008 NATS en Route, the BWEA, the Ministry of Defence and other government departments signed a Memorandum of Understanding seeking to establish a mechanism for resolving objections and funding for more technical research.

Wind farms in the UK often have to meet a maximum height limit of 125 metres. However, the cheaper wind turbines installed on the continent may be 200 metres tall.[138]

List of the largest operational and proposed onshore wind farms


Main article: Renewables Obligation

Through the Renewables Obligation, British electricity suppliers are now required by law to provide a proportion of their sales from renewable sources such as wind power or pay a penalty fee. The supplier then receives a Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) for each MW·h of electricity they have purchased.[14] The Energy Act 2008 introduced banded ROCs for different technologies from April 2009. Onshore wind receives 1 ROC per MW·h, however following the Renewables Obligation Banding Review in 2009 offshore wind now receives 2 ROCs to reflect its higher costs of generation.[157] Wind energy receives approximately 40% of the total revenue generated by the RO.[158] The ROCs are the principal form of support for United Kingdom wind power, providing over half of the revenue from wind generation.

A 2004 study by the Royal Academy of Engineering using "simplification and approximation" found that wind power cost 5.4 pence per kW·h for onshore installations and 7.2 pence per kW·h for offshore, compared to 2.2p/kW·h for gas and 2.3p/kW·h for nuclear.[159] By 2011 onshore wind costs at 8.3p/kW·h had fallen below new nuclear at 9.6p/kW·h, though it had been recognised that offshore wind costs at 16.9p/kW·h were significantly higher than early estimates mainly due to higher build and finance costs, according to a study by the engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald.[160] Wind farms are made profitable by subsidies through Renewable Obligation Certificates which provide over half of wind farm revenue.[161] The total annual cost of the Renewables Obligation topped £1 billion in 2009 and is expected to reach £5 billion by 2020, of which about 40% is for wind power.[162] This cost is added to end-user electricity bills. Sir David King has warned that this could increase UK levels of fuel poverty.[163]

Small wind systems under 50 kW previously received 2 ROCs, but are now eligible for support under the Feed In Tariff.[164]

A British Wind Energy Association report gives an average generation cost of onshore wind power of around 3.2 pence (between US 5 and 6 cents) per kW·h (2005).[165] Similar comparative results with natural gas were obtained in a governmental study in the UK in 2011.[166] The presence of wind energy, even when subsidised, can reduce costs for consumers (€5 billion/yr in Germany) by reducing the marginal price, by minimising the use of expensive peaking power plants.[167]

The government announced on 18 June 2015 that it intended to close the Renewables Obligation to new onshore wind power projects on 1 April 2016 (bringing the deadline forward by one year).[168]

Wind capacity factor by season[169]
Season Daytime Overnight Overall
Winter 44% 36% 38%
Summer 31% 13% 20%

Wind-generated power is a variable resource, and the amount of electricity produced at any given point in time by a given plant will depend on wind speeds, air density, and turbine characteristics (among other factors). If wind speed is too low (less than about 2.5 m/s) then the wind turbines will not be able to make electricity, and if it is too high (more than about 25 m/s) the turbines will have to be shut down to avoid damage. When this happens other power sources must have the capacity to meet demand.[39][170] Three reports on the wind variability in the United Kingdom issued in 2009, generally agree that variability of the wind does not make the grid unmanageable; and the additional costs, which are modest, can be quantified.[171] For wind power market penetration of up to 20% studies in the UK show a cost of £3-5/MWh.[172] In the United Kingdom, demand for electricity is higher in winter than in summer, and so are wind speeds.[173][174]

While the output from a single turbine can vary greatly and rapidly as local wind speeds vary, as more turbines are connected over larger and larger areas the average power output becomes less variable.[175] Studies by Graham Sinden suggest that, in practice, the variations in thousands of wind turbines, spread out over several different sites and wind regimes, are smoothed, rather than intermittent. As the distance between sites increases, the correlation between wind speeds measured at those sites, decreases.[169][176] The combined output of multiple wind turbines widely distributed across the UK gives a normal distribution of power, with a standard deviation which is about 0.76 of the average power.[177]

A Scottish government spokesman has said electricity generated by renewables accounted for 27% of Scotland's electricity use. On the night of 5–6 April 2011, the wind in Scotland was high, it was raining heavily, which also created more hydroelectricity than normal. The grid became overloaded preventing transmission of the electrical power to England, as a result the electrical wind power generation was cut. Wind farms operators were paid compensation known as "constraint payments"[178] as a result (a total of approximately £900,000) by the National Grid, estimated at twenty times the value of electricity that would have been generated. A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), described the occurrence as unusual, and noted it demonstrated a need for greater energy storage capacity and better electrical power distribution infrastructure.[179][180][181] The payment of 'constraint payments' to wind energy suppliers is one source of criticism of the use wind power, and its implementation; in 2011 it was estimated that nearly £10 million in constraint payments would be received, representing ten times the value of the potential lost electricity generation.[182]

There is some dispute over the necessary amount of reserve or backup required to support the large-scale use of wind energy due to the variable nature of its supply. In a 2008 submission to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, E.ON UK argued that it is necessary to have up to 80–90% backup.[183] Other studies give a requirement of 15% to 22% of installed intermittent capacity.[172] National Grid which has responsibility for balancing the grid reported in June 2009 that the electricity distribution grid could cope with on-off wind energy without spending a lot on backup, but only by rationing electricity at peak times using a so-called "smart grid", developing increased energy storage technology and increasing interconnection with the rest of Europe.[184][185] In June 2011 several energy companies including Centrica told the government that 17 gas-fired plants costing £10 billion would be needed by 2020 to act as back-up generation for wind. However, as they would be standing idle for much of the time they would require "capacity payments" to make the investment economic, on top of the subsidies already paid for wind.[186]

Public opinion

Surveys of public attitudes across Europe and in many other countries show strong public support for wind power.[7][8][9] About 80 percent of EU citizens support wind power.[10]

Which should be increased in Scotland?[187]

A 2003 survey of residents living around Scotland's 10 existing wind farms found high levels of community acceptance and strong support for wind power, with much support from those who lived closest to the wind farms. The results of this survey support those of an earlier Scottish Executive survey 'Public attitudes to the Environment in Scotland 2002', which found that the Scottish public would prefer the majority of their electricity to come from renewables, and which rated wind power as the cleanest source of renewable energy.[188] A survey conducted in 2005 showed that 74% of people in Scotland agree that wind farms are necessary to meet current and future energy needs. When people were asked the same question in a Scottish renewables study conducted in 2010, 78% agreed. The increase is significant as there were twice as many wind farms in 2010 as there were in 2005. The 2010 survey also showed that 52% disagreed with the statement that wind farms are "ugly and a blot on the landscape". 59% agreed that wind farms were necessary and that how they looked was unimportant.[11] Scotland is planning to obtain 100% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.[12]

A British 2015 survey showed 68% support and 10% opposition to onshore wind farms.[189]


In the UK, the ruling Conservative government is opposed to further onshore wind turbines, and has cancelled subsidies for new onshore wind turbines from April 2016.[190] The former prime minister David Cameron has stated that “We will halt the spread of onshore wind farms",[191] and had previously claimed that "People are fed up with onshore wind" though polls of public opinion showed the converse.[192] The wind power industry has claimed that the policy will increase electricity prices for consumers as onshore wind is one of the cheapest power technologies,[191] although the government disputes this,[190] and it is estimated that 2,500 turbines will not now be built.[190] Questions have been raised about whether the country will now meet its renewable obligations, as Committee on Climate Change has stated that 25GW of onshore wind may be needed by 2030.[193]


December 2014 was a record breaking month for UK wind power. A total of 3.90 TWh of electricity was generated in the month – supplying 13.9% of the UK's electricity demand.[194] On 19 October 2014, wind power supplied just under 20% of the UK's electrical energy that day. Additionally, as a result of 8 of 16 nuclear reactors being offline for maintenance or repair, wind produced more energy than nuclear did that day.[195][196] The week starting 16 December 2013, wind generated a record 783,886 MWh – providing 13% of Britain's total electricity needs that week. And on 21 December, a record daily amount of electricity was produced with 132,812 MWh generated, representing 17% of the nation’s total electricity demand on that day.[197]


In 2014, Siemens plans to build facilities for offshore wind turbines in Paull, England, as Britain’s wind power rapidly expands. The new plant is expected to begin producing turbine rotor blades in 2016. The plant and the associated service center, in Green Port Hull nearby, will employ about 1,000 workers. The facilities will serve the UK market, where the electricity that major power producers generate from wind grew by about 38 percent in 2013, representing about 6 percent of total electricity, according to government figures. There are also plans to increase Britain’s wind-generating capacity at least threefold by 2020, to 14 gigawatts.[30]

On 16 October 2014, TAG Energy Solutions announced the mothballing and semi closure of its Haverton Hill construction base near Billingham with between 70 and 100 staff redundancies after failing to secure any subsequent work following the order for 16 steel foundations for the Humber Estuary in East Yorkshire.[198]

In June 2016 Global Energy Group announced it had signed a contract in association with Siemens to fabricate and assemble turbines for the Beatrice Wind Farm, at its Nigg Energy Park site. It hopes in the future to become a centre for excellence and has opened a skills academy to help re-train previous offshore workers for green energy projects.[199]

Specific regions

Wind power in Scotland

Whitelee Wind Farm with the Isle of Arran in the background.
Ardrossan Wind Farm from Portencross, just after sunrise

Wind power is Scotland's fastest growing renewable energy technology, with 5328 MW of installed capacity as of March 2015. This includes 5131 MW of onshore wind and 197 MW of offshore wind.[200]

Whitelee Wind Farm near Eaglesham, East Renfrewshire is the largest onshore wind farm in the United Kingdom with 215 Siemens and Alstom wind turbines, and a total capacity of 539 MW.[201] Clyde Wind Farm near Abington, South Lanarkshire is the UK's second largest onshore wind farm comprising 152 turbines with a total installed capacity of 350 MW.[202] There are many other large onshore wind farms in Scotland, at various stages of development, including some that are in community ownership.

Robin Rigg Wind Farm in the Solway Firth is Scotland's only commercial-scale, operational offshore wind farm. Completed in 2010, the farm comprises 60 Vestas turbines with a total installed capacity of 180 MW.[203] Scotland is also home to two offshore wind demonstration projects: The two turbine, 10 MW Beatrice Demonstrator Project located in the Moray Firth, has led to construction of the 84 turbine, 588MW Beatrice Wind Farm set to begin in 2017 and the single turbine, 7 MW Fife Energy Park Offshore Demonstration Wind Turbine in the Firth of Forth. There are also several other commercial-scale and demonstration projects in the planning stages.[204]

The siting of turbines is often an issue, but multiple surveys have shown high local community acceptance for wind power in Scotland.[205][206][207] There is further potential for expansion, especially offshore given the high average wind speeds, and a number of large offshore wind farms are planned.

The Scottish Government has a target of generating 50% of Scotland's electricity from renewable energy by 2015, and 100% by 2020, which was raised from 50% in September 2010.[208] The majority of this is likely to come from wind power.[209]

See also

Related lists

Related United Kingdom pages

Developers and operators

Other related


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