New onshore wind installations plunged by nearly 80 per cent last year to their lowest level since 2011, according to new figures.

Renewable UK’s annual snapshot of onshore wind installations shows that 598MW of new onshore wind was installed in 2018 made up of 263 turbines at 54 sites,

This was down from 2,666MW installed in 2017, when the closure of the Renewables Obligation scheme to new onshore wind contributed to a record level of deployment.

This was a big jump on 2016, when 773MW was installed.

And shovel-ready onshore windfarm projects could plug two-thirds of the electricity capacity gap opened up by Hitachi’s suspension of the Wylfa nuclear power station if they were permitted by the government to compete on a level playing field.

According to figures, published on Friday (18 January) by Renewable UK, 4,466MW of onshore wind has received planning consent.

This shovel ready capacity could generate more than 12TWh a year, which the trade body estimated is equivalent to two-thirds of the output of the Wylfa power station, work on which was suspended last week by Hitachi.

However onshore windfarms are currently excluded from competing in the contract for difference auctions even though it is now the cheapest new power option available in the UK, according to figures produced in 2017 by consultancy Baringa showing that new onshore capacity can be procured for £46 per MWh.

According to new analysis by Renewable UK, building on work by the Committee on Climate Change, the closure of existing nuclear plants and other ageing power stations in the 2020s will create a gap of over 55TWh by 2030, equivalent to over 15 per cent of annual demand.

Commenting on the new installation figures, Renewable UK’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.”

Referring to Greg Clark’s recent speech proclaiming an end to the so-called energy “trilemma”, she said: “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.”