Warning over threat to renewable investment

Industry body RenewableUK has warned that the future growth of the onshore wind industry and investment in new infrastructure is at risk without a change in UK Government policy.

The warning came as the organisation launched a report showing a record high deployment of onshore wind in the UK last year.

In total 2,611 megawatts (MW) of onshore wind came online in the UK – over 20% of all onshore wind capacity in the UK. The new capacity was overwhelmingly installed outside of England, with 1,673MW in Scotland, 356MW in Wales and 247MW in Northern Ireland.

But RenewableUK said the UK Government’s policy of blocking onshore wind from competing for Contracts for Difference means that the industry faces a steep drop off in new investment and new capacity coming online.

‘Cheapest option’

It stressed onshore wind is the lowest cost option for new power in the UK, with a recent economic analysis from BVG Associates showing that contracts for new onshore wind would provide a payback to consumers of over £1.6bn.

RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said: “Onshore wind is a major success story in the UK’s low carbon economy and is now the cheapest option for new power.

“By excluding onshore wind from the market, the UK Government is putting at risk billions of pounds of new investment annually across the UK and making it more expensive to meet its own climate change targets”.

Benefits to economy

CEO of ScottishPower Renewables Lindsay McQuade said onshore wind had seen “incredible growth” in recent years.

“Every single new megawatt built helps the environment and supports the economy. If we were to build 5 gigawatts (GW) of new onshore wind power in the UK between 2019 and 2025, It would deliver £12bn benefits to UK economy, support 18,000 construction jobs and 8,500 long-term skilled jobs.

It is also the cheapest form of electricity generation available to UK. New projects could deliver a net payback of £1.6 billion to consumers. It is vital that we continue to work with Government to ensure that onshore wind has a future.”

> Download the report