Less favourable weather conditions during 2021 contributed to renewable energy generation falling by 9.5% from 2020 to 121.9 TWh in 2021, although this figure is still the second highest on record. Renewables share of total energy generation fell from 43% to 39% from 2020 to 2021.
In general, total energy production fell to its lowest level in over 50 years due to maintenance in the North Sea and disruptions in nuclear output. Energy demand increased by 5.4% from 2020 as COVID-19 restrictions were eased. However, this figure was still down 8% from 2019. Of the total annual electricity generated from renewables, wind energy provided 53% (29% offshore & 24% onshore). Offshore wind capacity grew by 873 MW in 2021 to 11.2 GW of cumulative capacity. In terms of onshore capacity, 372 MW was added in 2021, taking the total to 14.5 GW. Despite a greater annual growth in offshore capacity than onshore, only onshore wind saw a corresponding increase in generation from Q4 2020 to Q4 2021.
Research in the wind sector is focused on driving efficiency in O&M through collaboration between industry, academia, and the public sector. Tackling the challenge of grid integration will be vital as wind energy grows beyond 40GW. In addition, it will be vital to develop the local supply chain, deliver on ambitious targets, and maximise the benefit of the sector to the UK economy.
To learn more about wind energy in the UK, please review their chapter in the IEA Wind TCP 2021 Annual Report.