Wind is an inexhaustible energy source – but how much of its power we can harness is constrained by planning permission and infrastructure costs.
There are limits to the number of suitable sites for development of onshore wind farms. Only a small number of UK sites are windy enough, and reservations about noise and the visual impact of wind turbines can be a significant barrier to development.
There is significant potential to increase the UK’s wind capacity. In particular, a huge amount of capacity could be built offshore. DECC previously estimated that 40GW might be possible by 2030.Offshore turbines also have much less visual impact – lowering one of the main barriers to planning permission More space is available offshore, and wind speeds are generally higher and more consistent.
The UK Government is committed to increasing the proportion of UK energy from renewable sources to 15% by 2020, and most of this increase is expected to come from wind farms.
As of August 2013, the UK is home to the world's largest wind farm – the London Array – located 12 miles off the Kent coast. Its 175 turbines have a combined peak capacity of at 630 MW, enough to supply 500,000 homes with electricity.