Blowhard UK Hopes To Become The 'Saudi Arabia Of Wind Power'
Formerly prone to mock wind turbines, British premier Boris Johnson is now looking to make his country a pioneer in wind energy. His plans are ambitious and expansion is underway. But if the goals can really be met is far from certain, Benedikt von Imhoff reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
Photo Insert: A Hornsea 2 wind turbine
Johnson is known for grand statements, even if his plans don't always pan out. But when it comes to wind, he may have a point. Johnson wants to turn Britain's gusty isles into a green energy haven or, as he calls it, into the "Saudi Arabia of wind power."
Wind energy is expanding rapidly in Britain, particularly offshore. Companies from around the world are piling into this promising market, including German firms Vattenfall and RWE.
The British government wants to provide 40 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, which is a further 10 gigawatts than originally planned. By that point, all households are to receive "green" electricity, a major step towards Britain's goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, according to the Department of Trade and Industry in London.
That may sound ambitious, given the current offshore volume is around 10.5 gigawatts. But wind farms are expanding at a rapid pace.
The Hornsea 2 wind power field will open in 2022, located 89 kilometers northeast of Grimsby, in the North Sea. That will be the largest wind farm in the world with 165 turbines, made by Siemens Gamesa, says Danish operator Orsted. Gaining the title will nudge the smaller Hornsea 1 down in the global rankings.
"Together, the two projects will be able to supply far more than 2.3 million households with electricity," says Orsted. Renewables UK, an industry association, calls Britain a world leader when it comes to offshore wind power. Including onshore farms, wind energy now accounts for 24 gigawatts, about a quarter of gross electricity supply. The amount has increased 73-fold over the past two decades.
The British are pioneers in the field, according to a European diplomat in London, even if London continues to stress the importance of nuclear power in the energy mix. Other European nations are also pursuing wind power, such as Germany, where the North Sea offers opportunities.
Some 7.7 gigawatts put Germany in second place in Europe at the end of 2020. The new government, which includes the Green Party, is now keen to significantly increase capacities for offshore wind energy to at least 30 gigawatts by 2030 and to 70 gigawatts by 2045.