Planning consents for onshore wind farms now running at 600MW each year are only half the rate needed to meet scientists’ recommendations, wind lobbyists RenewableUK have claimed.
Even a probable accelerated buildout by the middle of this decade of Britain’s lengthening onshore pipeline risks leaving the nation short of the 35GW goal recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, the group says.
Onshore projects set to go before local planners rose by nearly 10% in the past year. Adding together projects already generating with those in design, construction or otherwise awaiting approval, the body’s latest Onshore Wind Project intelligence report reveals a total of almost 3GW.
That amount of onshore capacity would power more than 21 million homes all year round, playing a significant role in decarbonising the UK’s electricity system, the lobbyists argue.
If every onshore park now yet to achieve consent were to be constructed, Britain might see 30GW of turbines in operation by the end of this decade, more than doubling the 13.9GW generating today, the analysts predict.
Earlier this month the wind promoters’ Onshore Wind Prospectus estimated that doubling the UK’s onshore capacity would reduce consumer bills by £16.3 billion cumulatively by 2030, saving for £25 per household.
It would also generate £45 billion of economic activity and create 27,000 full-time jobs.
Seventy per cent of Brits, the lobbyists contend, are in favour of the local planning system should encouraging the building of onshore wind projects.
Easier planning rules should allow established parks to substitute taller, more powerful turbines, RenewableUK’s CEO Dan McGrail argued.
“The Government’s new Net Zero Strategy specifically calls for more onshore wind to be installed in the 2020s and beyond, to help to enable the UK to be powered entirely by clean electricity by 2035” McGrail said.
“As our latest Onshore Wind Project Intelligence shows, we have a pipeline of projects which can help the UK to reach net zero as fast as possible – and at the lowest cost to consumers.
“But to achieve this we need planning systems in place in all four UK nations which reflect the consistently high level of public support for this technology and allow projects to go ahead where they have a majority of local support.
“This must include encouraging the repowering of older onshore wind projects as they reach the end of their lifespan with taller, even more efficient turbines.
“In December, onshore wind will be competing for contracts to generate clean power for the first time in five years”, Mc Grail continued.
“We need to move from holding auctions every two years to annual auctions, framed by a Government target to 30GW of onshore wind by 2030. Doing this would show great leadership in tackling climate change at a time when the UK has an unprecedented international platform at COP26”.
Details on RenewableUK’s project intelligence service are available here.