Government urged to change policy or risk future of onshore wind
The UK’s onshore wind industry faces a steep decline in new investment without a change to government policy, despite enjoying a record year of additional capacity.
That is according to analysis by RenewableUK, which warns how the government could be costing customers up to £1.6bn by continuing to block onshore wind from competing for new power contracts
After increasing capacity by a record-breaking 2,611MW in the UK last year, it is thought that onshore wind must be opened up to these ‘contracts for difference’ to safeguard future growth.
“Onshore wind is a major success story in the UK’s low-carbon economy and is now the cheapest option for new power,” RenewableUK executive director, Emma Pinchbeck, said.
“By excluding onshore wind from the market, the government is putting at risk billions of pounds of new investment annually and making it more expensive to meet its own climate change targets.”
The latest analysis shows that last year’s new onshore wind capacity was mostly installed outside England, with 1,673MW in Scotland, 356MW in Wales and 247MW in Northern Ireland.
RenewableUK estimates that the new capacity represents an investment value of £5.3bn retained in the country, with 87% spent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
This comes after a YouGov poll found that two-thirds of people believe the government should change its current policy of excluding onshore wind farms from the energy mix.
Just 15% of the population oppose a change, with support at around 61% among Conservative voters, and at 65% for those living in rural areas.
When asked which type of development they would favour most in their local area, the most popular choice was an onshore wind farm, beating a new railway line, housing development, and a nuclear power station.
“The government’s policy is massively out of step with public opinion, including the views of Conservative voters,” Pinchbeck continued.
“Whether it’s the over-65s, people in rural communities or younger voters who want action on climate change, abandoning the onshore wind ban is popular across the board.”
Image credit: iStock
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM