United Kingdom

Wind Energy in the United Kingdom


uk.pngThe United Kingdom (UK) set a new record for land-based and offshore wind power generation in 2017. This continued upward momentum was due to increased capacity and higher wind speeds in the last quarter, compared to the low wind speeds recorded the previous year.

Land-based wind installations hit record highs, as developers rushed to secure subsidies before the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) deadline. Offshore wind costs continued their downward trend following the results of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) Allocation Round 2 in April 2017.

The Clean Growth Strategy was released in autumn 2017, making 557 million GBP (627 million EUR; 752 million USD) available for less established technologies in the next CfD auction round. However, it was later confirmed that there will be no new subsidies for renewable energy deployments until the new scheme set to replace the Levy Control Framework (LCF) is implemented in 2025.

To learn more about wind energy in the UK, please review their chapter in the IEA Wind TCP 2017 Annual Report.

National Targets


The Clean Growth Strategy, released in October 2017, established how the UK can take a global lead in cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change while driving economic growth. This plan will invest over 2.5 billion GBP (2.8 billion EUR; 3.4 billion USD) to support low carbon innovation from 2015 to 2021. Up to 557 million GBP (627 million EUR; 752 million USD) will be allocated to CfDs for less established renewable electricity projects—mainly offshore wind—in the early 2020s.

The Autumn Budget stated that there will be no new subsidies for renewable energy until 2025. The existing LCF was replaced by the Control for Low Carbon Levies framework, which provides an updated estimate for power capacity by 2025. The potential 2025 deployment is approximately 14 GW for offshore wind and 13 GW for land-based.

Operational Details


Wind-generated electricity met 14.2% of the UK electricity demand, which fell from 357 TWh in 2016 to 350 TWh in 2017. Land-based capacity reached 12.8 GW in 2017, 18% higher compared to 2016.Share of land-based wind energy was 8.6% of the total electricity generated, a rise of 2.4% compared to 2016 numbers. Land-based wind power generation increased  by 37%, to a record 28.7 TWh in a year as developers rushed to commission projects before the end of ROC scheme.

In 2017, the UK added 1.7 GW of offshore wind capacity, bringing the cumulative total to 7 GW. Offshore wind-generated electricity reached a record level of 20.9 TWh—27% higher than last year—due to increased capacity and higher wind speeds. Share of offshore wind-generated electricity also rose by 1.4%, reaching 6.2%. The average offshore wind capacity factor was estimated at 38.9%.

National R,D&D Priorities & Budget


Last November, the UK government published its Industrial Strategy: a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power in the UK. R&D investment in the public and private sector is placed at the core of this new strategy. Among the policies mentioned, the UK aspires to:

  • Raise the total R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027
  • Increase the rate of R&D tax credit to 12%
  • Invest 725 million GBP (816 million EUR; 979 million USD) in new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund programs to capture the value of innovation

An extra 2.3 billion GBP (2.6 billion EUR; 3.1 billion USD) of public funding will be added into R&D in 2021-2022, raising government spending to 12.5 billion GBP (14.1 billion EUR; 16.9 billion USD). The government will also work with industry to encourage private spending, which could lead to an increase of 80 billion GBP (90 billion EUR; 108 billion USD) over the next ten years and spread available funding across UK to eliminate regional concentration, especially in southeast.