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Will the UK Unleash its Onshore Wind Potential?

  • Publish Date: Posted about 1 month ago
  • Author:by Alex White

​​“We’re not doing enough.” 

It’s a bold statement that has been made by multiple renewable energy experts in recent months, each one loudly expressing their concerns about the current direction of the UK wind market.

After data has revealed that numerous (extensive) opportunities are being ignored time and time again because of the industry’s latest focus on offshore work, we need to once again broaden our horizons.

“England has been failing to capitalise on the potential of onshore wind.” - The Guardian

What is the UK’s onshore wind potential?

Despite having multiple successful sites across the country, such as:

  1. Whitelee, which powers over 350,000 homes,

  2. Clyde Wind Farm, which has 152 wind turbines, and

  3. LLandinam Windfarm, which produces 30.9 megawatts,

…the strict rules and regulations of our industry are holding the market back. 

As it stands, the UK has a lot of untapped sites that would be absolutely perfect for housing wind turbines. 

It’s a tragic loss that we’re not already using them, especially when 75% of voters would be eager to welcome wind farms in their local area.

Why is the UK’s onshore wind market so restricted?

Frustratingly, Footnote 54 in the National Planning Policy Framework has made it virtually impossible for onshore wind project developers to acquire planning permissions.

Why? 

The rule states that, should any group - no matter its size - involved with the local community object to a chosen location, the farm would have to be shut down before any work has been started. 

(Source: Regen SW)

Understandably, this is hardly creating an attractive market that investors are willing to take a risk on. Who wants to spend so much money designing extensive plans, conducting area research, and getting government approval, only to be shut down by a tiny minority of the nearby population?

In an entire article dedicated to this subject, the Guardian has made a firm and resounding criticism of the existing legislation - which could influence positive social change:

“As onshore wind generation is ever cheaper compared with gas and nuclear energy, this seems particularly harsh on those struggling to pay bills.”

What can be done to save the UK onshore wind industry?

There’s no doubt about it. 

The UK is facing an extensive energy crisis that is bound to affect average quality of life up and down the country in the next few years.

Going forward, our government will either need to:

  1. Guarantee access to the limited finite resources available.

  2. Reduce the legal limitations on energy companies (within reason).

Thankfully, the latter has already started.

“On 23 September, former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled the UK Government’s prospective growth plan aiming to reduce the cost of energy bills, at an expected cost of £31 billion over its first six months.

One of the primary inclusions, which has seen a positive response from the energy industry, is the return of support incentives for the development of onshore wind – one of the cleanest and cheapest methods of generating green energy.” - Current

Beyond this, our industry should lobby for a revision of Footnote 54, which will open up opportunities for firms in the UK to establish multiple new wind farms. 

When will the UK unleash its onshore wind potential?

While the UK’s onshore wind market will soon be able to release its potential, the process is certainly going to take a while. 

Although the government has shown they have a plan for saving our market, we can’t expect instant results. It takes time for legislation and bills to be approved, and energy companies may still find themselves on a long waiting list until traffic dies down.

However, from there, we can anticipate a drastic surge in growth. The onshore wind market has an exciting future ahead.

How to make the most of UK onshore wind potential

Any firms already operating in the sector will recognise the government’s latest growth plan as the beneficial asset that it is. 

Over the next few years, you should prepare yourself for additional projects that could be soon taking place. Ensure you have:

  1. A strong relationship with your suppliers.

  2. Completed all the other necessary paperwork.

  3. A clear plan for developing your wind farm.

  4. A consistent source of talent.

  5. Updated your recruitment processes. 

What’s more?
If you have multiple pending planning permissions, expect multiple to come in at once. Pretty soon, the UK will look to fuel onshore wind growth in order to secure a renewable, sustainable, and ethical source of energy for its increasingly-uncertain citizens.

(Source: Renewables UK)


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