COVID-19 causes decline of 0.24GW in UK’s estimated annual installed capacity for 2020

The UK’s annual wind installation market has so far been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and this is expected to continue throughout 2020. The total annual installations for wind power was 2.47 gigawatt (GW) in 2019 and pre-COVID-19, annual installations were estimated to be 1.22GW in 2020. However, annual installations could now stand at 980 megawatt (MW) for 2020, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Major companies in the sector such as Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) had to halt production to comply with the UK’s lockdown. SGRE has since resumed normal operations after introducing stringent measures to protect its staff from the spread of the virus, including carrying out thermal imaging checks for all entrants to the site and providing workers with personal protective equipment (PPE).

Corresponding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK has revised the timetable for awarding rights to sites capable of generating 7GW of offshore wind, in its fourth leasing round. Furthermore, it has extended the deadlines of its tender to give participants more time and flexibility.

Somik Das, Senior Power Analyst at GlobalData, said: “Globally, the UK has become one of the most eminent players in the offshore wind market with cumulative installed capacity growing from 1.34GW in 2010 to 9.97GW in 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic could make it harder for wind farms to stay operational.

“The average energy demand in the UK declined by 13% after the UK Government announced the lockdown. The output of existing wind farms could significantly decrease due to the supply chain, travel bans and deferred maintenance. In addition, a shortage of engineering staff due to the lockdown could delay critical operational and maintenance (O&M) work at project sites. Under normal circumstances, fixing a broken rotor or gearbox typically takes no longer than a month but now it could see up to six months of downtime on a particular turbine, which is quite significant for the wind industry as a whole.

“Thus, the performance of the wind sector in the second half of the year will be of critical importance for the UK. The rate at which the approval of the projects takes place combined with the rate at which the developers can carry out the projects in the second half of the year would be detrimental in understanding how much of a loss is borne by the sector during the lockdown period.”

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