New data produced by a construction industry intelligence specialist has revealed that the potential adverse impact of the Govt decision to axe £800 million of subsidies to onshore wind farm projects is worse than expected.
Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, recently announced that new onshore wind farms will be excluded from an existing funding scheme from 1 April 2016, which is a year earlier than expected.
All projects that already had planning permission and other similar conditions could still get built under a proposed “grace period”.
Potential onshore wind farms have suffered a surprise setback with the Government announcing an early end to their subsidies, putting projects worth over £6.4 billion in jeopardy.
More than two-thirds (68%) of the pipeline applications for onshore wind farms in the UK relate to locations in Scotland.
But according to the latest data from Barbour ABI, a chosen provider of construction data for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Government, there are 338 proposed wind farms that are yet to receive planning permission, putting them at risk of incompletion. This is much higher than the 250 projects at risk of failure which Rudd specified in her statement.
Commenting on the figures, Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, (pictured, left) said: “There are 5,000 active wind turbines already in use across the UK, producing 5% of the total amount of national electricity.
“The Government has a target of 30% of UK electricity coming from renewables by 2020, and must believe that other areas of renewable energy should be prioritised over onshore wind projects to receive future subsidies and investment before the 2020 target year.”
“In 2014, the Government paid out £800 million in subsidies for onshore wind farm projects and must believe the country now has enough turbines for the short and long term future.”
Meanwhile, 23 Holyrood MPs have supported a motion by the SNP MSP Mike MacKenzie which condemns the UK Government’s decision to bring the renewables obligation for onshore wind power to a close one year earlier than anticipated without consulting either the Scottish Government or the renewables industry in Scotland.
MacKenzie’s motion adds: “This will potentially lead to a loss of investment in onshore wind power of up to £3 billion as well as endangering around 5,400 jobs. This subsidy is vital to achieving Scotland’s target of achieving 100% of its electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020 and in meeting its climate change targets through decarbonising the energy supply”.
Apart from Labour’s Liam McArthur, all the other MSPs supporting this motion are from the SNP.
A subsequent motion – similarly lamenting the UK government decision to axe onshore windfarm subsidies – by Labour’s Lewis Macdonald – has been endorsed by 18 MSPs.