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Wind energy capacity in UK now greater than rest of the world combined

Wind energy capacity in Britain leapfrogged that of the rest of the world combined on Thursday as the largest offshore wind park came into operation off the coast of Kent.

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A boat powers past the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm off the Kent coast in southern England, on Sept 23. The Thanet farm is the world's largest operational offshore wind energy producer.

Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

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The UK's total offshore capacity thus rose to 1,341 megawatt (MW) on Thursday, compared with 1,100 MW installed in the rest of the world, according to statistics published by RenewableUK, Britain's wind and marine renewables industries association.

Britain has invested heavily in developing its offshore wind industry in a bid to meet its carbon reduction targets as cheaper onshore wind facilities, which were successfully rolled out in countries such as Germany, faced strong local opposition.

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With the official inauguration of Swedish utility Vattenfall's Thanet offshore wind farm on Thursday, another 300 MW of renewable energy capacity started producing electricity in Britain.

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"In the face of the worst recession in living memory, the UK wind energy industry has once again shown its strength and resilience by racing ahead to deliver another GW of installed capacity in less than 12 months," said RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery.

The opening of the Thanet wind farm also pushed Britain's installed renewable energy capacity to a five-gigawatt (GW).

Renewable energy now provides around nine percent of Britain's electricity consumption, RenewableUK said.

The British government's 2020 target is to have a share of 15 percent of green energy sources in final energy demand.