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A wind turbine from above in the Rampion offshore wind farm. Photo: Ben Barden Photography

The Crown Estate’s 2021 Offshore Wind Report reveals UK industry united in race to net zero


The Crown Estate has today published its tenth annual Offshore Wind Report which provides an in-depth insight into the progress of the UK’s offshore wind sector during 2021.

This year’s report highlights the strong collective progress made by the UK offshore wind industry in meeting accelerating demand for renewable electricity in support of net zero. In 2021 over a fifth of all global capacity additions were in the UK, the industry supplied enough green electricity to power a third of all UK homes and a new era of floating offshore windfarms began to take shape.

Technological developments, collaboration with communities, a focus on skills and diversity, improved data collection, and a commitment to accelerating development whilst maintaining and rebuilding a healthy natural environment, have all contributed to this progress, and reveal the shared commitment by the sector to grow the sector in a responsible and sustainable way. 

Highlights from the report include:

  • Growth in global offshore wind operating capacity.

    Global offshore wind capacity in operation reached over 48.2GW, more than 20% of which was in the UK. By the end of 2021, the capacity of fully commissioned sites reached 11.3GW, an increase of 8% on the previous year.

  • Supplying electricity for UK homes.

    UK offshore wind generated enough electricity in 2021 to supply the needs of 33% (9.3m) of UK homes – up from 4% in 2011.

  • Significant construction underway.

    The average size of UK projects under construction is now 1GW, which is more than ten times bigger than the early projects awarded rights under offshore wind Leasing Round 1, held twenty years ago.

  • New milestones:

    Kincardine became the world’s largest floating operational offshore wind farm, and Hornsea 2 - the largest site under construction in the world - started generating electricity.

  • New capacity entering construction.

    Sofia and Dogger Bank C projects achieved Financial Investment Decisions, and were granted leases in the first quarter of 2022.

  • Creating new opportunities for the future.

    Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 created the opportunity for at least 7GW of new offshore wind projects in the waters around England and Wales.

  • New technologies.

    2021 ushered in an era of new floating wind technology in the UK, which has taken an important step forward with the announcement that 300MW of new projects have been given the green light, to progress to the next stage of assessment.

The report features a broad range of insights and analysis of the sector, including wind farm performance and ownership, investment, development, Offshore Transmission Owner (OFTO) performance and ownership.

It also shows a continued commitment by industry to sustaining and attracting a diverse and inclusive workforce, through apprenticeship programmes, and looking at how recruitment processes can remove barriers.

As project complexity increases, health, safety and wellbeing in the sector is becoming ever-more important. The report highlights substantial improvements in a number of areas for the UK, including a reduction in the percentage of global ‘High Potential Incidents’ attributed to the UK, to 49% (compared to 67% in 2019).

Huub den Rooijen, Managing Director for Marine at The Crown Estate, said:

“The past year has seen a series of significant shifts in the wider context of offshore renewables in the UK, from cost of living concerns, to a heightened focus on energy security, through to understanding the pace and scale of the change needed to achieve the UK’s growing Net Zero ambitions.

“This year’s report paints a picture of a sector committed to meeting these challenges in responsible and innovative ways, and which has laid solid foundations for the continued expansion, and long-term success, of the offshore wind industry within the UK. We look forward to continuing to work closely with all our customers and stakeholders, and in particular thank those who have provided content for this report.”