Tripling onshore wind capacity from 13GW currently to 35GW in 2035 would lower annual energy bills by £50, according to new research commissioned by Renewable UK.
The study, conducted by Vivid Economics, says electricity prices would fall by around 7 per cent and the buildout would create thousands of new jobs, with the number of people directly employed within the sector rising from 5,300 to 14,000.
Renewable UK deputy chief executive Emma Pinchbeck said: “Now that the government has announced that it will set a legally binding target to reach net zero emissions by 2050, it needs to make use of the cheapest technology to get there – and to do so swiftly, as people are demanding immediate action on climate change.
“They also want lower electricity bills in the decades ahead, and skilled jobs. Onshore wind is treated as the Cinderella of energy policy by government but in reality, it should be their fairy godmother – one of the few technologies that can grant all of these wishes.
“The government’s climate advisers are also recommending more onshore wind because it’s part of the cheapest route to net zero emissions by 2050. Now is the perfect time for ministers to take a fresh look at this key technology and dismantle the barriers which are preventing us all from benefiting from it in full”.
In a report published in May, the Committee on Climate Change said the UK may need up to 35GW of onshore wind capacity by 2035 to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century.
Onshore wind projects have been unable to access government support since the Renewables Obligation was closed to new applicants in May 2016. They have been barred from participating in contracts for difference auctions since the first competitive round in 2014/15.
Commenting on the report’s findings at the Utility Week Energy Summit in London yesterday (13 June), RWE Generation chief commercial officer Tom Glover said onshore wind project could bid for contracts at subsidy-free strike prices but need the stable revenues provided by contracts for difference.
He said the requirement to obtain planning permission from local authorities is also holding back growth: “If you really want to go for it – and some people talk about putting this on a war footing – then you don’t ask Mrs Miggins whether you can build the tank. You just build the tank…
“Get the network sorted, get the planning sorted, get some revenue stabilisation and onshore wind will deliver savings for consumers.”