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Britain has now installed more wind capacity than any other type of power source, with wind power capacity overtaking combined-cycle gas power stations for the first time and ending more than a century of fossil fuels dominating the electricity system, a new report prepared for power group Drax showed on Wednesday.
As of June 2023, Britain’s fleet of wind farms reached 27.9 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, exceeding the gas-powered stations total capacity of 27.7 GW, according to the study prepared by experts from Imperial College London and the University of Sussex for the quarterly Drax Electric Insights.
From the Victorian era up to 2011, coal was the largest source of power capacity in Britain, the authors of the study point out. Natural gas had been Britain’s largest source of power capacity for the last 10 years, before being overtaken now by wind capacity.
Over the past 10 years, Britain’s wind capacity has tripled and is currently nearly equally split between 14.1 GW of onshore wind capacity and 13.8 GW of offshore wind farms. England and its seas host half of this capacity, with three-eighths in Scotland and one-eighth in Wales, the report says.
Wind capacity is set to further increase in the near to medium term, as 6.7 GW of wind farms are currently under construction, according to the analysis.
“Beyond this, the UK has a staggering 98 GW of offshore wind in planning, a pipeline that is the second largest in the world (behind only China), ahead of the United States and all European countries,” the authors of the report wrote.
In recent months, however, Britain has seen setbacks in the wind industry, especially in offshore wind projects as cost inflation has hampered new developments. Not a single offshore wind bid featured in the UK’s latest clean energy auction, in another blow to Britain’s offshore wind ambitions.
Earlier this year, Swedish utility Vattenfall said it was halting the development of a 1.4-GW offshore wind power project in the UK due to surging costs and challenging market conditions pressuring new projects.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com