Wind turbines “could supply most of UK’s electricity”

8th November 2016 | Commercial Energy

Wind turbines could soon supply most of the UK’s electricity, the boss of the country’s largest windfarm operator has said. He confirmed plans to sell Dong’s oil and gas division. This sale would underpin it plan to become a “global leader in renewables”. This is 44 year after the company was set up to exploit Denmark’s North Sea oilfields.

Henrik Poulsen said, “When you look back in 10 years from now, we’ll see this period around 2016-17 as an inflection point. The cost of offshore wind, also solar and onshore wind, is coming down at such speed that nobody could have predicted.”

Dong Energy is the UK’s largest windfarm operator, with stakes in planned or existing projects able to produce five gigawatts (5GW). This is more than the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear reactors.

Poulsen said technological advances in the energy industry meant wind power could end up supplying more than half of the UK’s electricity demand.
“When you combine different things, you could see offshore wind’s total of the energy mix going a lot higher,” Poulsen said. “You could definitely go above 50%.” He cited the falling cost of wind power, coupled with rapid progress in battery storage technology.

Wind power is often criticised for its intermittency, in that it cannot be relied upon to meet the UK’s energy needs because the wind does not always blow. But improvements in battery storage will mean surplus wind energy can be stored for release on windless days.

Dong confirmed it was seeking buyers for its North Sea oil and gas business, and Poulsen said the decision was more than simply financial. “The company has an ambition of leading the energy transition to renewables,” he said. “That’s been driving us for the past few years and we see this as the natural step to transforming to be fully focused on green energy.”

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