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In terms of annual wind power capacity growth, the country’s installations increased from 68 MW in 2001 to 427 MW in 2007. By the end of 2012, the country is projected to have more than 9,284 MW of wind power capacity, representing a cumulative growth rate of 31% in the cumulative wind power capacity during the period 2001-12.
With a current capacity base of 3,174 MW (as of November 2008), the UK is now home to about 2,389 wind turbines distributed among 198 wind farms that provide electricity more than 1,774 thousand homes. Of the current wind power capacity, Scotland (share: 48.8%) has the highest number of installations, followed by England (33.1%), Wales (11.5%) and Northern Ireland (6.6%). The UK has about 40 wind power projects in the construction phase, representing a capacity base of 1,584 MW. The country also has over 395 projects in the consented and planned phase, collectively adding up to 14,567 MW of installed capacity. The regional break-up in terms of the under construction, consented and planned wind power installed capacity will be quite similar to the trend of the operational break-up – with Scotland having a share of 41%, followed by England (39.2%), Wales (11.3%) and Northern Ireland (8.6%).
Such robust wind power plans across the UK is proving the country’s significant onshore and offshore wind power potential. In December 2007, the UK Government announced plans for a major expansion of offshore wind development, opening up the seas off the UK coastline for up to 33 GW of wind energy. The country’s offshore sector is approaching half of the current global offshore installed capacity. The UK wind power sector is thus becoming one of the most attractive arenas for investment.
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Leadership in the UK’s Wind Power Installations
The UK wind power market comprises of more than 55 wind farm owners. In 2007, the top 10 wind farm owners collectively accounted for a total share of nearly 80% in the country’s cumulative installed capacity.
In terms of the cumulative capacity in the year 2007, Iberdrola was the leading wind farm owner in the UK, accounting for a share of 15% (370 MW) in the country’s total wind power base. The second and third positions were taken by RWE Group and E.ON, which had a respective share of 14.4% and 8.6% in the UK cumulative wind power installed capacity of 2007.
In terms of new wind power installations in 2007, the top 10 wind power companies in the UK accounted for more than 82% (353 MW) share. In spite of being the market leaders, Iberdrola, RWE Group and E.ON did not play a significant role in making new capacity additions in the UK in 2007. The market was mainly driven by other companies such as DONG Energy, Airtricity Holdings and Falck Renewables, who emerged as the top players in the country’s new wind power installations of 2007. DONG Energy stood first with a share of 21% in the newly added wind power capacity, followed by Airtricity Holdings (19%) and Falck Renewables (14%). These companies added about 90 MW, 81 MW and 61 MW of new wind power capacity respectively in 2007.
However, 2008-09 will witness a fundamental change in terms of wind power ownership structure in the UK. Driven by the strong support from the government and the massive wind power potential, a new set of companies will emerge as the leaders and key players. Many new companies have begun focusing on the development of their wind power portfolio in the UK. Of these, E.ON, Centrica Energy and Iberdrola will take on the UK wind power market by emerging as the leading companies in terms of new wind power capacity additions. In 2008-09, E.ON is expected to account for 22% of the new capacity added in the UK, followed by Centrica Energy (21%) and Iberdrola (16%).
E.ON’s Wind Power Growth Plans for 2008-09
With the UK being the windiest country in Europe, and wind energy regarded as one of E.ON’s most promising renewable energy technologies, the company is actively committed to the development of wind farms in the country. E.ON currently operates 20 wind farms (213 MW) in the UK, and has more than 18 onshore and offshore wind power projects (953 MW) in various stages of development. E.ON’s share of 4% (2007) in new wind power installations will increase to about 22% within the next two years.
Centrica’s Wind Power Growth Plans for 2008-09
Centrica, which had a share of less than 1% in the UK’s cumulative capacity in 2007, is now actively pursuing wind power development in the country. The company will follow E.ON with a share of 21% in new wind power capacity additions during 2008-09. Centrica is keen on following an upstream strategy of sourcing a portion of its energy demand from its own equity sources, hedging against the volatility of energy markets. It is currently involved in the development of the Lynn, Lincs and Inner Dowsing wind farms in the offshore waters of the UK. Centrica is also focusing on exploring the opportunities for two further wind farms in the Greater Wash at Docking Shoal and Race Bank, totaling 1,000 MW. Subject to approval and construction, these wind farms will give Centrica more than 1.6 GW of wind power generating capacity in the UK by the end of 2010.
Iberdrola’s Wind Power Growth Plans for 2008-09
Iberdrola’s leadership in the UK wind power capacity additions will be on account of its strategy of focusing on building capacity in markets where established wind power businesses exist, allowing it to maximize the value creation and achieve economies of scale. The company has planned an investment of €8.6 billion for wind power development during the period 2008-10. Through, Scottish Power, the company will gain access to more than 340 MW of new wind power capacity in the UK.
Further, many new companies such as EDF Energies and HgCapital will gain momentum in the UK’s wind power sector by developing wind power projects during 2008 and 2009. The following table gives the list of the wind farms that will be operational during the years 2008 and 2009 in the UK:
The UK is emerging as the fastest growing wind power country. Due to the strong capacity growth plans, the country’s wind power sector offers enormous market opportunities to all wind farm owners. In order to reap the benefits of this massive growth, a large number of companies have aspiring wind power installation plans. As a result, the next few years will see the emergence of some new leading wind farm owners in the UK.
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