With Europe¡¯s largest resources in onshore and offshore Wind Energy, and also ocean wave and currents, the UK has been moving to develop these, and other renewable energy resources. It aims to use renewable energy to contribute to the security of its energy supplies, and to reduce pollution. These objectives are similar to those of China. Supported by a Renewables Portfolio system that encourages the use of renewable energy for electricity generation, the UK has a national target to produce 10% of its electric power from renewables sources by 2010, and aims to increase this level to 20% by 2020. It is also introducing biofuels, which it aims to use for 5% of its road transport fuels by 2012.
Much of the renewables development in the past has been in hydro, and in energy from biomass and waste, with a growing contribution from wind energy. While technology is being developed and capacity deployed in a wide range of renewables including solar applications, much of the growth in renewables generating capacity in the next 10 years will be from wind energy, and with a growing contribution from ocean wave and tidal energy.
In 2007 there are 1,400 Megawatts of wind power under construction; and a further 4,154 Megawatts already consented, more than half of which is for offshore developments.
This figure increases to some 7,000 Megawatts when including other projects that are in various stages of planning, and will shortly increase further to around 20,000 Megawatts with the next round of offshore wind farm licencing.
The UK is set soon to have the highest rate of wind power construction in Europe.
Most of these developments will be around England and Wales, with much of the stronger resource offshore Scotland still to be addressed as grid transmission capacity is strengthened, and as available technology makes the more challenging conditions more accessible. Within just a few years, the market for deployment of wind power onshore and offshore the UK is expected to become the largest in Europe. Numerous practical issues have been addressed in the UK¡¯s development of wind energy and other renewables so far, including the need to develop standards for connecting to the electricity grid, and the question of developing a strong supply chain for the increasing rate of wind farm developments. With the UK¡¯s experience of offshore oil and gas production, companies there have been able to bring specialist offshore engineering, construction, and operating experience to the wind industry.This experience, with a tradition of precision engineering, and continuing technological development for critical components, has enabled companies from the UK to contribute to the supply chain and wind developments also in neighbouring Europe, and across the world. For the Windpower Shanghai conference and Exhibition, a strong UK delegation from across the windpower industry is exhibiting at the UK pavilion in the exhibition. These companies are seeking opportunities to collaborate with Chinese companies, and to add value in manufacture and in deployment of capacity in the rapidly growing industry of windpower; onshore and offshore.