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UK offshore wind explainer

Release date:
8 February 2021
We take a closer look at UK offshore wind and its potential to help build back better
 
🕒 5 min read | 📖 Feature| 💡 Why it matters

The UK government is backing offshore wind energy in a big way. Putting the fastest-growing energy source at the centre of its 10-point plan for a ‘green industrial revolution’ and pledging to transform the UK into the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’. To get there, it plans to quadruple current offshore capacity to 40 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

 

How will UK offshore wind expand?

The UK is already home to seven of the world’s 10 biggest offshore wind sites.  And has over a third of the global capacity installed (10,415.420MW, according to the UK Wind Energy Database1), with the renewable energy generating more than 10% of the country’s electricity requirements in 20202.

What makes the UK a wind wonder? 

As the gustiest country in Europe, the UK is an ideal location to harness the power of wind. In the last decade, onshore wind turbines have become a common sight in the UK, dotted along hills, fields and even beside motorways. But for the next decade, it’s the incredible generating power of offshore wind turbines that’s really set to take off.

 

Scientists and engineers have always known that the wind out to sea is worth harnessing. Offshore, the wind is stronger, more powerful and consistent, meaning it can generate more power. But until recently, the technology has not been in place to make it cost-effective. 

How many UK homes are powered by offshore wind energy each year?
That's correct. Last year, offshore wind powered the equivalent of 4.5 million homes. By 2030, the government has said offshore wind will produce more than enough electricity to power every home in the country.

Oops, wrong answer! The correct figure is 4.5 million, and by 2030, the government has said offshore wind will produce more than enough electricity to power every home in the country.

Making the most off the coast

Offshore wind, once relatively expensive compared to onshore wind or solar, has seen a sharp reduction in capital costs (in 2020, around 65% lower than UK projects in 20153), thanks in part to the use of much larger turbines and technological advances, such as development of lithium-ion batteries, an essential element in ensuring continuity of supply from weather-dependent sources.

💡 Why it matters


Development of offshore wind power will play a key role in the UK government’s plans for a ‘green energy revolution’, which bp strongly supports. Sharing an ambition to be net zero by 2050 or sooner and to help the world get to net zero, bp aims to increase annual low carbon investment 10-fold to around $5 billion a year by 2030.

 

Following our first move into the offshore wind sector last year, when we signed a deal with Equinor to develop projects in the US, we are now expanding our offshore wind portfolio in the UK. It’s another step towards achieving our aim to grow developed renewable generating capacity from 2.5GW in 2019 to 50GW by 2030.

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