Opinion: Don’t derail onshore wind

Photo credit: Good Energy.
By Juliet Davenport

Britain has the potential to move away from its heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels with volatile prices and take control of its own energy security by making better use of renewable sources like onshore wind.

Imported fuels currently account for more than 60% of the UK’s electricity generation but increasing investment in onshore wind means we’ve already built more than 8,000MW of renewable electricity capacity. This has contributed to renewables’ record 19.2% share of electricity generation in 2014.

Polls consistently show strong public support of around 70% for onshore wind. The sector produces more than £1.7 billion of Gross Added Value a year to UK PLC and supports 19,000 full time equivalent jobs directly and indirectly, accounting for 62% of jobs in the renewables industry.

Just this week, Renewable UK issued a new report showing that the economic benefits of developing onshore wind are strongly felt in the UK, with each megawatt of onshore wind installed bringing in more than £2 million to the UK over its lifetime, and 69% of the industry’s total spend remaining in the UK.

The report, undertaken by BiGGAR Economics, also reveals that, on average, 27% of the economic benefits of onshore wind are enjoyed in the local authority area around each project, reflecting the efforts of many developers to engage in initiatives to maximise and promote local supply chain and employment opportunities. The local level of content has increased in each stage of wind farm development between 2011 and 2014, reflecting developers’ commitment to ensure benefits are spent locally.

These are all great reasons for supporting and growing onshore wind in the UK.

It is therefore with dismay we note that some political parties, who in trying to win marginal seats in this hotly-contested general election, are calling for an end to onshore wind development. If such policies are adopted, UK PLC will miss out on the cheapest form of clean energy generation and the global opportunities for growth and export of our expertise on renewable energy, and become a far less attractive prospect for inward investment.

We urge all parties not to risk derailing the momentum onshore wind is currently seeing, but to grasp the opportunities offered by onshore wind, and focus on providing a stable regulatory framework that supports the development of this important emerging part of the UK economy.

Juliet Davenport is the founder and CEO of Good Energy.

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