Economy-wide group calls for new approach to expand onshore wind

Onshore wind developers, trade bodies, investors and supply chain companies have called on new energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng to establish a new approach to onshore wind. The call, in an open letter, has been backed by  trade union Prospect, the National Farmers’ Union, the RSPB, the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses, the manufacturer’s organisation Make UK (formerly EEF), the National Infrastructure Commission, the Aldersgate Group which campaigns for a sustainable economy, and the environmental campaign group 10:10 Climate Action. 

The letter highlights the key role that cheap onshore wind power can play in meeting  government’s net zero target at lowest cost to the consumer. The Government’s advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change suggested that if the current block was lifted, 35GW of onshore wind could be deployed by 2035 to help to meet the UK’s carbon reduction targets. According to the Chief Executive of the CCC Chris Stark, “the more onshore wind we have, the cheaper net zero becomes”.

In addition to allowing onshore wind to compete for Contracts for Difference, the letter urges the Government to update planning rules so that the most modern and efficient turbines can be used at suitable high-wind locations in the UK, as well as setting out guidance to support the replacement of older turbines.

Sue Ferns, deputy general secretary at Prospect, said: “Decarbonising our economy while increasing generating capacity and keeping bills low is a huge challenge that will require a mix of technologies to achieve. It is obvious that onshore wind has to be a key part of that mix. A rapid expansion of onshore wind deployment also has the potential to create thousands of good green jobs across the UK, and help secure a Just Transition for workers as high carbon generation is phased out.”

Jonathan Scurlock, NFU’s chief adviser on renewable energy and climate change, said, “The NFU is frustrated by the current barriers and lack of incentives for onshore wind power – this impacts upon farmers and growers wishing to diversify their businesses with on-site power generation, the income from which helps to make farm enterprises more profitable and resilient in a volatile world”.

The RSPB said “We support the increased use of onshore wind in appropriate sites as part of the wider UK renewables strategy needed to tackle the climate emergency and to deliver net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

Tanisha Beebee, CBI’s senior policy adviser on energy and climate change, said: “The CBI is eager to see the development and progression of renewable energy technologies, with associated economic, environmental and industrial benefits across the UK, and this begins with further harnessing the UK’s potential for the cheapest new-build energy technology – onshore wind”.

Martin McTague, FSB policy and advocacy chair,  said: “In the UK, onshore wind generates more electricity than any other renewable source. As we journey towards a low carbon economy, FSB wants to see the UK lead the world in renewable technologies like onshore wind, nurturing the UK skills base and ensuring that our small firms are empowered to supply their products, services and expertise to these industries.”

Read the full letter: Onshore Wind Letter to Energy Minister Aug 2019)

Further reading

Where are our wind farms?  Search and sort data on UK power assets via New Power’s online Database. Free access for subscribers

What’s on the ‘wish list’ for a new energy minister?

From New Power Report’s archive: getting the most out of onshore wind farms

SSE chief executive has three ‘asks’ for new prime minister

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