Investment surges as wind power gathers momentum
Last year was a record breaking year for wind power which saw capacity, investment and planning approvals skyrocket, according to the trade association RenewableUK.
Findings from its annual State of the Industry report released today reveal that the UK's total installed wind power capacity rose by a quarter (1,825MW) and new investment in offshore wind rose by 60% to £1.5bn in a single year.
RenewableUK claims the wind industry is on track to power one in ten homes by 2015 and will come second only to natural gas as the largest single source of UK electricity by 2020.
The latest figures show that from June 2011 to September 2012, for the first time in five years, the UK saw a rise in the amount of onshore wind capacity being approved at local level - with decisions being made ten times quicker than last year,
This speeding up of planning approvals was demonstrated most significantly in England where approved capacity for schemes below 50MW increased from 25% in 2010/11 to 40% in 2011/12.
Overall in the UK, a record 1,701MW of schemes were consented onshore this year, compared to 1,142MW last year.
The report also notes that in the last quarter of 2011, the proportion of electricity in the UK coming from renewables reached its highest ever at 10%. It claims that wind power contributed the majority of this and is expected to provide up to 7% of the UK's electricity by the end of the year.
At a time when the British economy has been shrinking overall, the report has welcomed the strong figures that show the industry's current installed capacity is more than eight times than it was in 2004.
However, while RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery said the industry had taken significant strides forward, she warned that there was still a long way to go and that it was crucial the coming Energy Bill supported the industry.
She said: "2011-12 saw overall capital investment in the offshore wind industry rise by 60% to £1.5bn and a record amount of onshore wind capacity approved. These strong figures underline the importance of a secure trading climate to attract investment, especially in difficult times.
"That's why it's so important that the framework provided by the Energy Bill, currently under parliamentary scrutiny, must be right. Although we still have a long way to go to meet our challenging targets, we are firmly on track and gathering momentum".