Exclusive data reveals developers are ploughing cash into UK wind farms

Wind turbines

As the UK cleans up the damage caused by Storm Imogen and its almost 100mph gales yesterday, developers are sinking money into wind farms to harness arguably the UK’s most abundant natural resource.

According to data compiled exclusively for Building by Barbour ABI, £29bn of wind farms are planned in the UK that do not yet have contractors appointed. This includes the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Danish developer Dong Energy’s £15bn Hornsea One off the coast of Yorkshire, which the firm gave the green light to last week.

The wind power sector is enjoying a surge of investment - the £29bn figure dwarfs the £12.3bn of contracts awarded on wind farm developments over the past five years, according to Barbour ABI.

Paul Glendinning, wind power expert and head of power networks at engineer WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, estimates wind turbines with a total generating capacity of 20 gigawatts (GW) are planned for the UK - equivalent to more than six Hinkley Point C nuclear power plants.

Glendinning said: “We’re probably ahead of European competition, and even the world. We’re a world leader.”

Explaining the attraction of the UK for wind farm projects, Glendinning said: “The UK has the largest wind resource in Europe – it’s windy – particularly for large projects.

“Also the UK’s relatively low sea levels - compared to the Mediterranean for example - are a good thing when it comes to construction.”

Glendinning said wind farms contributed 11% of the UK’s total electricity output last year – hitting 17% in a particularly windy December.

He said the wind sector was a “growth area” for WSP PB and the firm had a pipeline of work “certainly in excess of 10 years” in the sector.

Last week Dong Energy made a positive final investment decision on Hornsea One, which will cover more than 400 square kilometres off the Yorkshire coast. It will have a capacity of 1.2GW, sufficient to power around one million homes.

Other developments in the pipeline include further £8bn and £7.2bn North Sea schemes off the coast of Teeside and East Anglia, and a £3.3bn wind farm in the Irish Sea.