The UK does not have specific targets for wind power generation. However, under the lead scenario in the Renewable Energy Strategy published last July, more than 30 per cent. of our electricity could be generated from renewables by 2020. Much of this generation would be from onshore and offshore wind.
The latest official electricity output data are for November 2009, when major power producers supplied 740 GWh from wind generation. Electricity output data for December 2009 and January 2010 will be available on 25 February 2010 and 25 March 2010 respectively. As such, we are unable to provide an estimate of the cost per unit of generation by either wind or non-renewable sources in December and January.
Load factors are defined as the average hourly quantity of electricity supplied during the year, expressed as a percentage of the average output capability at the beginning and end of the year. As such, these are only calculated on an annual basis, with the latest data for 2008 showing 29.4 per cent. for onshore wind and 34.9 per cent. for offshore wind.
An indication of the load factors for December 2009 and January 2010 can be obtained by calculating total operational wind generation as a percentage of the theoretical maximum generation for all operationally metered wind plants. This data is made available by National Grid and only refers to wind which is operationally metered i.e. around half of the onshore wind farms and none of the offshore wind farms. Onshore wind farms generated 20.9 per cent. and 30.3 per cent. of maximum potential output in December and January respectively. Where this figure exceeds the load factor for onshore wind, given above, the plants covered by operational metering were operating at above average levels.