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Reported by RenewableUK on 18 January 2019

New onshore wind installations plummet in 2018

(Courtesy of pixabay.com)

RenewableUK is today releasing new figures that new onshore wind installations fell by nearly 80% in 2018 to the lowest level since 2011. Last year 598MW of new onshore wind was installed, made up of 263 turbines at 54 sites, down from a record 2,666MW installed in 2017.

This dramatic fall in new capacity follows the announcement this week that Hitachi is suspending development of a new nuclear power station at Wylfa in north Wales. That announcement adds to the gap in clean energy needed to meet the UK’s carbon targets. Building on work by the Committee on Climate Change, RenewableUK analysis shows a gap of over 55TWh needed by 2030 – equivalent to over 15% of annual demand – due to the closure of existing nuclear plants and other ageing power stations in the 2020s.

There is currently 4,466MW of shovel-ready onshore wind that has gone through the local planning process, which could generate over 12TWh a year – equivalent to two-thirds the output of the Wylfa power station. Moreover, onshore wind is now the cheapest option available for new power in the UK. Independent figures show that Government could procure new capacity for £46 per megawatt hour (MWh) – cheaper than gas, new nuclear and other renewables.

The downturn in new capacity in 2018 is largely the result of changes in Government policy to block onshore wind from schemes that support renewable energy deployment. In 2015, the Government announced it would close the Renewables Obligation scheme to new onshore wind and the scheme officially closed in 2017, contributing to record deployment that year. The Government have also barred onshore wind projects from competing in the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, which uses competitive price auctions to procure new renewable capacity at lowest cost.

Commenting on the new figures, RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said:

 “Onshore wind is now the cheapest source of new power for UK billpayers, and it is supported by more than three-quarters of the British public. We have ready-to-go onshore wind that can help close the gap between the low carbon power we need and the amount Government policy is actually delivering, and this week’s announcement on nuclear power has made this mammoth task even harder. 

The Secretary of State has rightly recognised that renewables can now be delivered with little or no subsidies, and that they have earned their place at the heart of a modern energy system. But Government has stacked the odds against onshore wind being built at the scale needed to meet our carbon budgets and excluded these projects from competing for government-backed power contracts.”

References

[1]

RenewableUK. Press release - New onshore wind installations plummet in 2018. URL: http://www.renewableuk.com/news/434648/New-onshore-wind-installations-plummet-in.... [Date Accessed: 21/01/2019].

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