RenewableUK has warned that the future growth of the onshore wind industry is at risk without a change in Government policy.
Their latest report says the Government’s policy of blocking onshore wind from competing for new power contracts, known as Contracts for Difference, means that the industry faces a steep drop off in new investment and new capacity coming online.
The report examines the deployment of onshore wind in the UK in 2017, revealing a record 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.
According to the report, onshore wind capacity added in 2017 represents an investment value of £5.3bn retained in the UK. Of this, 87% (£4.7bn) of this was spent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the report, RenewableUK’s executive director Emma Pinchbeck said: ‘2017 was a record-breaking year for onshore wind in the UK, with more new capacity coming on line than ever before.
‘This technology is now powering over 7.6m homes. 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 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.’
CEO of ScottishPower Renewables Lindsay McQuade added: ‘Onshore wind has 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.’
Read the report here.