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Global Onshore Wind Market Report

Key Regional Markets

United Kingdom

Onshore Wind Capacity

15.3 GW

GDP (Current Prices) USD (2022)


GDP Growth Forecast (constant prices) (2023-2027)



Pound Sterling

Country Credit Rating (S&P)


Renewable Energy capacity (2022)


Onshore Wind Share in Renewables (2022)


Renewable Energy Target

Targets 50GW of onshore wind capacity by 2030 and fully decarbonise UK’s electricity generation by 2035

The UK is one of the leading countries in renewable energy in Europe. As of 2022, it has a total installed capacity of 53GW, which has grown by 7.6% YoY. Over the years, the UK has become one of the largest markets for wind energy production. In 2022, wind energy accounted for 54% of the country’s total renewable energy mix (IRENA, 2023). Although onshore wind has historically led the offshore segment in capacity, the offshore segment is expected to overtake after the latest energy security strategy set an ambitious 50 GW target for the technology by 2030 (Government of UK, 2023). The growth of the renewable energy sector can be attributed to various factors such as increased investments, policy support, and the British government’s commitment to phasing out conventional energy sources. They aim to achieve 100% decarbonization of electricity generation by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2050 (The Guardian, 2023). 


  • Announcement of AR CfD auctions to catalyse capacity led growth by 2028

  • Streamlining approval rules for EIA of wind turbines and plans to eliminate ‘De Facto’ ban on wind farms


  • Economic uncertainty and inflationary pressure to hamper new project deployment

  • No new onshore wind capacity in the new energy security plan amidst rising communal opposition

Renewable Energy Mix

Source: IRENA Renewable Capacity Statistics July 2023

Historically, onshore wind has been the main source of renewable energy in the UK, but now it shares the top spot with solar PV, with both accounting for 28% of the renewable energy mix in 2022. Over the last decade, the proportion of onshore wind in the energy mix has decreased by 10%, which is in part due to the removal of subsidies for onshore wind projects (IRENA, 2023). The percentage of onshore wind farms declined post-2016 due to a ban on new installations in 2015. This ban hindered expansion and shifted focus to other technologies (Britain Remade). On the contrary, offshore wind has grown significantly due to suitable CfD schemes and government initiatives (Wind Europe, 2023). The onshore wind industry in Britain is expected to improve with plans to ease approvals and the current government’s efforts to increase its contribution to generating low-cost electricity. Notably, the UK government plans to reverse its 2015 de facto ban on onshore wind to encourage development (The Guardian, 2023).

Installed Capacity: Status and Trend

Trend in Installed Onshore Wind Capacity

Source: Preqin Global Report 2023: Private Equity

Between 2013 and 2017, the installed capacity of onshore wind power increased consistently by 13%. However, the growth rate has slowed down since then, with a CAGR of 3% between 2018 and 2022. In the same period, the yearly capacity additions have been very unstable, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing a record-low addition in 2020 (IRENA, 2023). The decline in new onshore wind farm additions began in 2017 due to a ban on their construction and the absence of subsidies. Although subsidies were renewed in 2020, the pandemic restrictions further widened the gap. However, there has been a recent increase in onshore wind capacity, with 14.8GW added in 2022, and this trend is expected to continue as it is the most cost-effective renewable technology with efficient turbine expertise for power generation. To further accelerate the growth of onshore wind, new permitting rules, streamlined development regulations, and eased EIA rules can help stabilize the effect of rising electricity bills.

Demand Drivers

One of the main demand drivers for onshore wind in the UK is the auctions designed through the Contract-for-Difference mechanism. The government announced the AR 4 CfD auction with a total budget of GBP345 million, where GBP15 million was allocated for onshore wind, solar, and hydropower for a max of 3.1GW. The auction results marked a comeback of the onshore wind sector, as the round secured almost 1.5GW of onshore wind power, including 900MW of mainland projects (Wind Europe, 2022). The government confirmed that it would continue to support onshore wind through annual Contracts for Difference auctions. Subsequently, as part of the Energy Security Plan, in March 2023, the government announced plans to launch CfD AR-5 with an initial budget of GBP205 million for both established and emerging technologies, including onshore wind (Government of UK, 2023).

The expansion of onshore wind industry in England is driven not only by CfD auctions but also by the strategy to revoke bans and tackle the adverse effects of wind farm opposition. Such announcements have attracted the interest of developers and investors, as evidenced by the substantial number of projects commissioned after the subsidy ban was lifted in 2020 (The Guardian, 2020). Here, the government reallowed subsidies for onshore wind farms and to participate in government contracts. In September 2022, the regulators announced streamlining onshore wind permitting procedures by relaxing rules of environment approvals and simplifying the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for wind turbines (IEA, 2023). Besides this, the government further eliminated the ‘De Facto’ ban on wind farms, allowing easy approvals and loosening restrictions (The Guardian, 2023). In association, it aims to include local communities for rapid approvals by allowing ownership, which is expected to ease approvals and stimulate investments in the technology, thus paving the path for robust expansion in the coming years. 

Market Opportunity

The wind energy sector has significant potential in the UK, as in 2022, the country produced one-fourth of its electricity from wind energy (Wind Europe, 2023). As onshore wind farms are confined to Scottish land due to limited land availability, repowering with advanced turbine technology can surge capacity installations in other parts of the UK (IEA, 2023). To encourage repowering, the British government in 2023 mentioned providing steady support to the repowering segment under the Energy Security Strategy. Besides, onshore wind farms are not eliminated from the CfD mechanism, which guarantees a minimum strike price to renewable developers, and repowered farms can compete in CfD allocations (Government of UK, 2023). Thus, OEMs have a vast opportunity as instead of installing new wind farms, regulators focus on expanding the current legacy wind farms. Among notable developments, Octopus Energy, in partnership with EWT, plans to repower 1,000 onshore wind turbines in the UK (CURRENT, 2022) and Hagshaw Hill wind farm is set for repowering with a capacity of 80MW and a 20MW battery storage facility (The Guardian, 2023).

Even though to regain momentum, the regulators reinitiated subsidies on onshore wind projects, subsidy-free projects through the PPA route have a strong presence that offsets the need for public funding. For example, Vattenfall inaugurated one of the largest onshore wind farms in 2023. When fully commissioned, it will have a total capacity of 240MW. The energy will be provided through a route-to-market PPA to South Kyle for 15 years (Vattenfall, 2023). Another unsubsidised onshore wind farm with a capacity of 50MW came online at the end of 2021, Amazon’s first renewable project in the UK. This is the first of the four projects, where all together, it will provide 529MW of renewable energy to AWS data centres, fulfilment centres, and corporate offices by 2025 (Amazon, 2021). Further, UK telco BT has signed a 10-year PPA with the Renewables Infrastructure Group TRIG to procure renewable energy from a 35MW Scottish wind farm (DCD, 2023). Thus, with simplifying permitting procedures and the announcement of remote island wind farms, PPAs are also expected to expand for the onshore wind sector.

Energy storage is another area with substantial expansion potential for its ability to address the system instability caused by intermittent nature of onshore wind turbines. In order to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative longer-duration energy storage projects, in Q42022, the government awarded GBP33 million to successful projects under the Longer Duration Energy Storage programme (Government of UK, 2023). Further, the UK Infrastructure Bank commits to providing GBP62.5 million to support battery storage development (ETN, 2023). Private sector capital is also making inroads in the space, such as DIF Capital providing GBP200 million in funding for grid-scale battery energy storage project developments (DIF, 2023).


Source: BNEF Global Wind Market Outlook

Owing to legislative initiatives, onshore wind in the UK has a strong project pipeline. As per data from Renewable UK, the total onshore wind capacity pipeline has grown to 37GW as of 2022, with projects under construction, consented, and operating stage, indicating an optimistic market condition (Renewable UK, 2022). As per BNEF forecasts, onshore wind cumulative annual installation is expected to grow 6% by 2030, reaching c.24GW of cumulative capacity, signalling favourable market conditions to investors. However, this is well short of the target the Climate Change Committee set of 29GW of onshore wind capacity by 2030 (CCC, 2020).

Major hindrances in the industry’s expansion path include opposition from local communities resulting in bans, political clashes on revoking wind farm bans, and skilled worker shortage. Though cheaper electricity provided by onshore wind turbines amidst rising energy prices is attracting the support of commoners in the UK, the constant opposition due to the environmental effects of wind turbines delays deployment at scale. This has resulted in the absence of an ambitious target for onshore wind in the 2023 Energy Security Plan. Despite this, the government has taken steps to repower existing wind farms and plans to reformulate bans and gather communal support through incentives. Further, it also plans on the Net Zero Skills and Workforce Action Plan by 2024 to withstand the skilled workforce challenges in the renewable industry (Government of UK, 2023).

Besides this, variability in generating location and consumption location creates VRE curtailments, as wind farms are in Scotland and consumers are in the southeast. This requires proper networking and grid management, to which the national energy regulator plans to build a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) link on the East Coast to increase interconnections (IEA, 2023).

Overall, the UK has yet to be able to utilise its full onshore wind potential due to logjams. The country’s decarbonisation plan is anticipated to be supported by technological advancements in response to the rising demand for renewable energy, and onshore wind energy has the potential to play a significant part in that process. In this regard, crucial actions are required, such as strategic government initiatives to create a pipeline of future projects and significantly upgrading the UK grid to support incremental capacities.