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Last edited 18 Jan 2019
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The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 400 ppm in 2014, up from 280 ppm in pre-industrial times, corresponding to 375,000,000,000 tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere since 1750.
Wind is a clean, plentiful renewable energy source.
The UK has relatively good and easily exploited wind resources:
- It has 40% of Europe’s wind due to its position in the North West of Europe where it bears the full brunt of weather systems coming in from the North Atlantic.
- It has the longest coastline in Europe (the island of Great Britain has a coastline of 17,820 km according to the Ordnance Survey).
- It has many shallow waters, ideal for off-shore wind.
- It has many sparsely populated upland areas, mainly in the North which is also the region with the most significant wind resources.
 Wind installations in the UK
The first British wind farm was established in 1991 at Delabole, Cornwall. Since then, largely due to the government's Renewables Obligation, UK wind energy capacity has flourished and is now considered one of the best locations in the world. In 2012, the UK was the world leader in offshore wind.
As of August 2018, there were 8,930 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 19.2 GW (12,121 MW of which were onshore, and 7,155 MW of which were offshore).
In February 2017, it was reported that the construction value of offshore wind reached £4.1 billion in 2016, increasing from £2.45 billion in 2015.
However, by and large, the British view wind power in a favourable light. In surveys carried out in 2012 for RenewablesUK, the body which champions UK wind and marine energy, and for the Sunday Times, it emerged that:
- 77% of Britons are in favour of electricity from renewables.
- 73% of Britons support offshore wind and 66% onshore wind installations.
- Only 17% of Britons support additional gas/coal power stations.
- Only 40% of Britons support additional nuclear power stations.
- The main advantage is the low carbon nature of wind power. It is a completely 'clean' energy, other than the manufacture and construct on of the pylons, blades and turbines.
- Wind power generation is relatively silent.
- The wind is strongest in the winter months when energy demand is at its highest.
- Many jobs are created in designing, manufacturing, and servicing the equipment.
- A 7% reduction in UK carbon emissions versus 1990
- A quarter of a million UK jobs by 2050
- Annual revenues of some £19 billion by 2050
- The main disadvantage is the unpredictable nature of wind speeds resulting in turbines being immobile for significant periods.
- It is difficult to store generated power.
- Wind turbines tend to be large and very visible within the countryside.
 International comparisons
The 8 countries with the most installed capacity are (2011 figures, GW):
- China (62.4)
- USA (46.9)
- Germany (29.1)
- Spain (21.7)
- India (15.9)
- Italy (6.7)
- France (6.6)
- United Kingdom (6.5)
The UK had the 5th largest installed capacity in Europe at the end of 2011; this reflects its fairly late uptake of wind power compared for example with Germany, which has by far the most capacity, or Spain.
Installed capacity in Europe, end of 2011 (MW)
 Find out more
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- Renewable energy.
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- Solar photovoltaics.
- Solar thermal energy.
- The future of UK power generation.
- Wind farm.
- Wind turbine.
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