United Kingdom

Wind Energy in the United Kingdom


uk.pngThe United Kingdom had a successful year for wind energy in 2016; the offshore market continued to grow and the level of wind energy penetration in the grid remained over 10% despite lower than average wind speeds.

The remarkable cost reduction achieved by offshore wind has contributed to increased investor confidence in the public sector. Significant investments in manufacturing facilities have materialized, showing the confidence in the potential of the UK market’s supply chain. The second Contract for Difference (CfD) auction round announced in 2016, will ensure continued deployment, although the lack of long-term visibility of new capacity reduces the certainty of future investments.

In 2016, the UK made significant progress in the deployment of higher-rated turbines, new test facilities, condition monitoring, and application of computational fluid dynamics to wind farm design, as well as floating wind technology.

National Objectives


The UK’s renewable energy policy addresses the energy trilemma of security, affordability, and carbon reduction. From a low carbon perspective, this is driven by EU targets and the Paris Climate Agreement. The Levy Control Framework (LCF) manages affordability, controls the costs of all low-carbon support mechanisms paid for through consumers’ energy bills, and sets an annual budget for projected costs of all low-carbon electricity levy-funded schemes until 2020–2021.

Renewable Energy Targets


The Climate Change Act 2008 established a target for the UK to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, compared to a 1990 baseline. This will be accomplished by setting five-yearly carbon budgets. The UK Parliament approved the 5th CarbonBudget (2028–2032) in July 2016, following recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

The UK has a renewable energy target of 15% by 2020, as part of the EU’s overall target of 20% renewables. LCF provides an estimate of the capacity that is expected to be allocated. For offshore wind, the potential 2020 deployment is approximately 10 GW, dependent on a range of factors including cost reduction over time. For land-based wind, the potential 2020 deployment is up to 12 GW.

Policies Supporting Development


The implementation of the Electricity Market Reform is now complete, following the closure of the Renewables Obligation Certificate scheme and the introduction of the replacement
competitive auction framework CfD.

In November 2016, the government announced the second CfD auction, opening in April 2017. This will allow bids from offshore wind projects up to a capacity of approximately 1.8 GW. Land-based wind has not been included as an eligible technology for this round of CfD subsidies. As such, land-based site development will decreasemsignificantly after all current development has been completed.