Skip to content

How Much Power Do Wind Farms Generate In England?

November 16, 2016

By Paul Homewood   




As we all know, there has been much controversy about onshore wind farms lately.

The Conservative Government has promised to abolish all further subsidies for new wind farms. In reply, Renewable UK, the lobby group for renewable energy, has claimed that onshore wind is now the cheapest form of new generation in Britain and that polls consistently show support for wind power.


But just how significant is onshore wind in the overall electricity mix?

In the UK as a whole, onshore wind accounted for 6.7% last year. But if we only look at England on its own, which is after all where most of us live, we find a much different picture.


DECC don’t give separate figures for onshore wind power in England, only onshore and offshore together. However, they do quote capacity figures, which are currently 2514 MW for England.

Working on capacity utilisation of 28%, this would equate to 6.2 TWh a year.

DECC also give total electricity generation figures for England of 260.9 TWh (latest figures are for 2014). This would suggest that onshore wind is only supplying 2.4% of generation in England.


Am I cherry picking by just looking at England? I don’t think so. As I say, this is where most people in the UK live.

Also energy policy is one of the powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament, albeit within a UK framework. So, to some extent,  what they do is up to them.

The bottom line however is that we have have plastered pretty much all of England with wind turbines, yet for so little benefit.




I always like comparing renewable output with what proper power stations are capable of producing. 

The newly opened CCGT plant at Carrington is rated at 880 MW, and assuming capacity loading of 85%, would generate 6.5 TWh a year, slightly more than all England’s wind farms put together!



  1. Joe Public permalink
    November 16, 2016 4:35 pm

    I’m puzzled that the Scots can identify Scotland’s wind performance, e.g. to be able to boast of the one day it exceeded their demand:

    Is it that English & Welsh wind is bundled together?

  2. November 16, 2016 4:37 pm

    As for the supposed popularity of wind power, I find that few in the wind industry are willing to explain why Denmark and the wind industry are currently engaged in an expensive international study to determine how they can get round popular opposition to wind power:

    “In spite of measures aimed at increasing the acceptance of wind turbine projects, both official and private bodies continue to experience a rising tendency for local conflict which is getting in the way of the ambitious target of a fossil-free Danish energy supply by 2050. This situation applies in the whole of Europe…” (Abstract, ‘Wind2050 – Multidisciplinary study on local acceptance and development of wind power projects’, Aalborg University).–multidisciplinary-study-on-local-acceptance-and-development-of-wind-power-projects(df4824f2-c1d5-4316-a609-44807328848b).html

    We could save the Danish taxpayer millions by pointing out that the growing opposition in Denmark is directly related to the replacement of very small (20 to 50 metre) turbines with 125m-plus monsters across the land. As in other countries, people do not take kindly to having their landscape, health, residential amenity and property values damaged by large numbers of monster turbines in valued landscapes and close to communities.

    This was clearly expressed in 2010 when the CEO of Dong, the Danish state-owned energy conglomerate, told TV2 News that the company was giving up on building any more onshore turbines following protests from residents about turbine noise and other impacts, “It is very difficult to get the public’s acceptance if the turbines are built close to residential buildings, and therefore we are now looking at maritime options.”

  3. November 16, 2016 4:57 pm

    As Paul knows I recently wrote a paper to support our local campaign against the Scout Moor Wind Farm Extension which includes detailed calculations for measuring the “benefits” of the proposed wind farm. If there is sufficient interest I am thinking about making the calculations available online for the benefit of others. Essentially by inputting a few key parameters one would be able to calculate the temperature benefit (based on a extrapolating from results in a recent paper by Lomborg) and the percentage contribution to our climate change target in emission savings. It is also possible to extrapolate the land requirement in order to meet the full target. As a headline result I found that an onshore only solution would require nearly twice the land area of Wales to meet the 80% reduction target for 2050 (ignoring the many areas that would be unsuitable). That would be a lot of displaced people and sheep.

  4. November 16, 2016 5:50 pm

    The official average capacity factor for England up to 2014 was 25.1% (DECC). I haven’t checked to see whether the figure up to 2015 has been published.

    • November 16, 2016 6:12 pm

      It’s higher now, 29.5%, is the figure I used from DUKES 2016. There is no guarantee of course that it won’t go down again.

      • November 16, 2016 7:31 pm

        No, 29.5% is the average UK capacity factor for onshore wind for 2015. The figure I quoted is the rolling average capacity factor for England up to 2014, i.e. it is a much more reliable figure than for a single year.

      • November 16, 2016 9:03 pm

        Good point

    • Joe Public permalink
      November 16, 2016 6:34 pm

      Not forgetting “Simple graphing of the data from the older farms suggests that their load factor has declined by roughly 2% per year

      Our friend David MacKay FRS, “On the Performance of Wind Farms in the United Kingdom”

  5. 1saveenergy permalink
    November 16, 2016 6:25 pm

    Huge amount of info on ‘regrettables’ on this site-

    outputs / financial / load factors …

  6. Stonyground permalink
    November 16, 2016 7:23 pm

    The problem here is that of injecting politics into practical matters. For all their faults, market forces are self correcting. If it had been left to market forces, the fact that windmills were useless would have been established very quickly. After that, no sane person would have invested any money in them and anyone who did would have ended up living on the streets.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 17, 2016 2:00 pm

      They would never have got off the ground if you excuse the pun. Nobody would even have tried apart from remote places off grid or the Scottish island that makes hydrogen by electrolysis to fuel their cars as petrol is very expensive.

  7. Patsy Lacey permalink
    November 16, 2016 7:36 pm

    Was it the late Sir David McKay who said that an area the size of Wales would be required in respect of OFFSHORE wind to meet the demands of the average European?

  8. Graeme No.3 permalink
    November 17, 2016 2:31 am

    “onshore wind is only supplying 2.4% of generation in England.” Given the rise in electricity bills you must have the most ridiculously stupid scheme in the World or would it be the most ridiculously stupid pol……..?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: