With more than 23,500 small and medium wind turbines now installed in the UK and with almost 25,000 turbines exported by UK manufacturers, small and medium wind industry is now worth more than £100 million to the British economy – with the market almost doubling in size over 2012.
But there are concerns that the Government merge of all wind turbines under 100kW to the same feed-in tariff bracket will impact small wind.
A new report published by RenewableUK shows that 2012 saw an all-time high in the number of people installing small and medium sized wind turbines, as people looked to take advantage of the previous feed-in-tariff system before payments levels were reduced.
The vast majority of these turbines are installed on farms and domestic rural properties, meaning that small and medium wind is playing a major role in revitalising the rural economy.
The report shows not only a big rise in the installation of small and medium wind turbines, but also a large increase in exports of UK built turbines: for every turbine installed here one has also been sold abroad to foreign markets, showing that the UK is a leading player in the sector and is building up a world-leading skills base.
This increase in deployment and export sales has caused fantastic growth in employment. The small wind sector has shown the greatest percentage increase in employment across the entire wind and marine industry. A fourfold growth in jobs took place between 2010 and 2012.
The report however, raises concerns about the Government’s decision to further reduce the level of feed-in tariff support, alongside the amalgamation of all turbines under 100kW into the same level of feed-in tariff bracket.
The industry is calling on the Government to take notice of the progress made by the industry and support its future development with better policy frameworks. This will ensure that more people will be able to benefit from this burgeoning sector, while playing a big part in helping the UK meet its carbon reduction targets.
Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive, RenewableUK, said: “With about 20% of our population living in rural areas, it’s vital that we find ways of powering the rural economy, and wind is doing exactly that. This technology brings over £100 million into the rural economy and in the past couple of years we have seen the market almost double in size.
“Despite the remarkable progress, serious challenges remain in terms of building the right policy framework for the industry, most notably the difficulty in achieving planning permission and the changes to the feed-in tariff. Significant growth took place before the Government’s decision to bring together all small wind turbines under the same feed-in tariff bracket, and reduce the tariff level.
“So our message to government is clear; that we can lead the world in this sector, but only if we take that opportunity with both hands.”