Independent energy analysts at the Aurora consultancy yesterday forecast that the first subsidy-free wind and solar-power plants will be built by 2025.
This is three years after the planned construction of the world’s first subsidy-free offshore wind farm, which will be built in The Netherlands by 2022.
However, power chiefs at the Big McTwo – Perth-based utility SSE and Glasgow-based Scottish Power – also pleaded again yesterday for new subsidies for onshore wind farms.
Aurora analysts told an energy trade conference that wind power will account for half of all subsidy-free renewables to be built in the UK between now and 2030.
They said that the UK is well on the way to ‘a new era of subsidy-free renewable energy’ projects that will largely kill off prospects for new gas power stations, according to industry analysts.
Tom Glover of RWE UK commented: “The challenge for thermal is the absolute step-change in flexibility required to balance intermittency of increasing amounts of wind and solar. Batteries will help, as will biomass – but there’s no one answer.
The falling cost of wind and solar projects combined with advances in battery storage technology will unlock about £20 billion of investment in the UK between now and 2030.
Aurora predicts that solar farms capable of generating up to 9 gigawatts and onshore wind farms with a maximum output of 5 gigawatts are likely to be built on this basis by 2030
And it claimed that onshore wind and solar will both be viable without subsidies by 2025 in the UK.
Mateusz Wronski, an analyst at Aurora, said: “The subsidy-free revolution is here – and it’s big.”
However, senior management at Scottish Power and SSE joined in calls for the Brit-Govt to consider reversing the UK’s ban on subsidies for onshore windfarms, saying developers of these projects should be allowed to compete in auctions for subsidies.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE, said onshore windfarms should be given a chance where communities support them. “I’d like to see onshore wind coming back in the UK,” he added.
And Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer at Scottish Power, added: “There are still areas where we could build onshore wind farms where the local community are receptive to them.
“The CfD <subsidy> has done exactly what it was supposed to and slashed the cost of onshore wind – and there’s still further to go. It ticks every box of the industrial strategy and delivers cheaper power. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!
“Nothing in the UK energy sector has been built without the support of subsidies, including everything from the network to thermal generation and nuclear.”
22 Mar 2018