UK offshore wind alone outdoes global capacity

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s offshore wind capacity leapfrogged that of the rest of the world combined on Thursday as the largest offshore wind park came into operation off the coast of Kent.

The opening of Vattenfall’s 300-megawatt (MW) Thanet windfarm took the UK’s total offshore capacity to 1,341 MW, compared with 1,100 MW across the rest of the world, according to Britain’s wind and marine renewables industry association.

Britain hopes to build at least 32,000 MW more offshore wind capacity while expanding its fledgling wave and tidal energy production over the next decade in a bid to cut carbon emissions after failing to create a big onshore wind industry.

“What we need to communicate to the business community is that this is going to be the fastest growing market bar pretty much anywhere for these renewable energy sources over the next few years,” UK energy minister Chris Huhne said at the official opening of a Swedish utility’s wind farm using 100 turbines from Denmark’s Vestas.

The opening of the Thanet wind farm also pushed Britain’s installed renewable energy capacity to 5 GW, RenewableUK said.

“In the face of the worst recession in living memory, the UK wind energy industry has once again shown its strength and resilience by racing ahead to deliver another gigawatt of installed capacity in less than 12 months,” said RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery.

The British government’s 2020 target is to have a share of 15 percent of green energy sources in final energy demand.

Reporting by Karolin Schaps, editing by Daniel Fineren and Vera Eckert