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The installed capacity of the offshore wind sector in the UK has risen by 79 per cent in a year.

In the period from July 2012 to June 2013, capacity increased from 1858 MW to 3321 MW, boosted by four huge wind farms becoming operational – Greater Gabbard, Gunfleet Sands III, Sheringham Shoal, and London Array (pictured), which at 630 MW is currently the biggest offshore wind farm in the world.London Array

The increase is revealed in a new report, Wind Energy in the UK, compiled by trade group RenewableUK, and it marks the first time in a 12-month period that installed offshore capacity has outstripped onshore, which stood at 1258 MW.

Nevertheless, onshore also saw an increase of new capacity by 25 per cent, bringing its total capacity to 6389 MW.

Onshore and offshore, a total of 2721 MW were installed between July 2012 and June 2013, taking the UK’s total wind capacity up from 6856 to 9710 MW – a 40 per cent increase.

RenewableUK says that onshore, project sizes are declining overall, “due partly to the growth of the vibrant sub-5MW market under the feed-in tariff, with projects at this scale now making up two-thirds of new onshore submissions. Other factors include a reduction in the availability of larger sites, and developers’ responses to changes in the planning system.”

However, the report notes that there are concerns within the wind industry about levels of political support and the government’s ambition for the sector, leading to a decline in confidence.

But it points out that despite this, “there is a substantial pipeline of projects under construction, approved but not yet built, and in planning”.

RenewableUK’s chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “We’ve smashed another record in the past year with more offshore wind installed than ever before – the 79 per cent increase in capacity within 12 months is a terrific achievement. With onshore expanding by 25 per cent, the wind industry as a whole has proved that it has the tenacity to achieve substantial growth.”