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UK aims for 25% of electricity from offshore wind by 2020

The UK government recently issued licenses for a staggering amount of offshore wind capacity:

> While the Round 3 project to build 29 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 is a challenge equivalent to building eight Channel Tunnels in 10 years and requires a step-change in technology, it is achievable, Benj Sykes, Senior Technology Acceleration Manager, told reporters…

> It would require setting up every year about 500 turbines — which are taller than the 180-meter “Gherkin” building in London — by around 2013, compared with around 280 achieved last year, and accelerate the speed to about 1,000 by 2019.

Geoffrey Styles provides some helpful context:

> The 32,000 MW of wind turbines planned for installation in the waters around Britain over the next ten years or so would match the entire onshore wind capacity of the US, to date, while delivering perhaps a quarter more energy annually, because of their larger size and access to more reliable wind…

> When completed, the turbines in the nine offshore zones awarded last week would generate roughly the same amount of power annually as a dozen nuclear power plants, based on a 40% capacity factor, and considerably more when the wind is blowing strongly. That’s directly relevant, because Britain’s aging fleet of nuclear power plants is being phased out, and by the time the first of the new offshore wind farms is done, UK nuclear generating capacity could be less than half its current level of around 11,000 MW.

Although the United States has a more diverse set of renewable energy resources than the UK, offshore wind has a lot of potential on this side of the Atlantic. The actual number of megawatt-hours being produced by offshore wind here in the U.S. remains stubbornly stuck at zero, however, and the struggling Cape Wind project was recently hit by further regulatory delays.

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