Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Wind Country Notes
The Utilities Act (2000) made substantial changes to the regulatory system for electricity in Great Britain. The Act replaced the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation Orders (NFFO), by the Renewables Obligation and the Renewables Obligation (Scotland), which came into force in April 2002. These impose an obligation on all electricity suppliers to supply a specific proportion of electricity from renewable sources. The target began at 3% in 2003, will rise gradually to 10% by 2010, to 15% by 2015 with the eventual aim of a 20% contribution. In the short term it is likely that wind energy will be the major contributor to meeting these targets, but in the longer term other technologies will come into play.
The Energy Act of 2004 has provided the impetus for the development of wind energy in the UK. It established a comprehensive legal framework for all offshore energy projects, extended the boundary for projects to 200 miles beyond the country's territorial waters, created a Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) adjacent to the territorial waters in which projects could be installed and provided a framework for the execution of the British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements (BETTA). BETTA came into effect on 1 April 2005 and provides sets of rules both for trading electricity across Britain and for access to and charging for the transmission network.
Thus in recent years great progress has been made in the growth of the UK's wind energy sector. From just 427.2 MW - 423.4 MW onshore, 3.8 MW offshore - at end-2001, the 1 GW mark was passed in June 2005 with end-year capacity standing at 1 565 MW - 1 351.2 MW onshore, 213.8 offshore. The four operational offshore wind farms in 2005 consist of three in England; off the north east coast at Blyth (3.8 MW), off the east coast (East Anglia) at Scroby Sands (60MW), off the south east coast at Kentish Flats (90 MW) and one off the north coast of Wales at North Hoyle (60 MW). A 90 MW offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea off the north west coast of England at Barrow was officially opened in September 2006.
The UK Department of Trade and Industry reported that as at July 2006, plans for a further 6 200 MW of onshore wind capacity and 3 900 MW of offshore capacity had been published, although it was unlikely that all projects would obtain the necessary permissions to proceed. In early 2007 the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) listed four offshore projects as under construction, totalling 294 MW and a further ten, totalling 2 484 MW, as having received approval.
The commissioning of the 72 MW Braes of Doune wind farm in Scotland in February 2007 saw total UK installed capacity pass the 2 GW mark.
Along with Germany and the Netherlands, the UK is part of the European Offshore Supergrid® project. Initially the 10 GW Foundation Project is designed to test the feasibility of interconnecting 2 000 wind turbines and supplying electricity to the national grids of all three countries. Ultimately, it is proposed that the system could cover the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Irish Sea, the English Channel, the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean.
The White Paper Meeting the Energy Challenge (May 2007) announced the Government's intention to strengthen the Renewables Obligation (RO), increasing the RO to 'up to 20% as and when increasing amounts of renewables are deployed' and introducing banding of the RO in order to provide differentiated support to the various renewable technologies. In this latter connection, particular mention was made of the need to bring forward offshore wind and biomass.