Projects to go ahead

Onshore wind projects to pick up speed after ban lifted

SSEs-Gordonbush-wind-farm-in-Highlands

SSEs Gordonbush wind farm in the Highlands

Onshore wind farms are expected to power ahead after the UK government lifted a ban on supporting development imposed four years ago.

David Cameron’s Conservative government blocked both onshore wind and solar from accessing the contracts for difference programme, the main method for supporting renewables, and offered no replacement.

With the renewable obligation scheme closing to large-scale solar in 2015 and wind the following year after, all available backing for these renewable technologies ended.

It led to the stalling of projects with all but one built last year previously qualifying for support under the subsidy schemes. Only 629 megawatts was built compared to 2.6 gigawatts in 2017. Solar suffered even worse with just 233 megawatts built last year against 4 gigawatts in 2015.

The CFD programme requires bidders to offer power at a set strike price. If the wholesale power price dips below this, the government makes up the shortfall. If the wholesale price is higher, the extra revenue is paid back to the authorities. The contracts last for 15 years.

As the windiest country in Europe, Scotland is already the UK’s onshore wind powerhouse, with around 58% of its installed capacity (8.1GW out of 14.1GW), as well as 80% of its consented capacity (3.9GW of 4.9GW).

Today’s announcement means onshore wind – the cheapest form of new power generation – will be able to access UK Government power auctions, enabling their financing and delivering economic benefits across Scotland.

Onshore wind and solar PV provide the cheapest way to tackle climate change

– Claire Mack, Scottish Renewables

Scottish Renewables chief executive Claire Mack said: “This announcement is recognition that, as Scottish Renewables and others have said for many years, onshore wind and solar PV provide the cheapest way to tackle climate change while delivering economic benefits across the UK.

“Onshore wind employs 5,800 people in Scotland in highly-skilled, green jobs of the future. As we seek to meet our net-zero targets in the most cost effective way this technology has a key role to play.

“Scotland, with its enviable wind resource, is already home to the majority of the UK’s onshore wind power. We also have the majority of its consented capacity – that is, wind farms with planning permission, which are ready to build today.

“Access to the Contracts for Difference mechanism does not mean subsidy. These most competitive of projects will be delivered at prices far below the wholesale cost of power, with a Scottish Renewables study in 2017 showing they will actually deliver money back to government.

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