Let onshore wind continue says Policy Exchange

The think tank Policy Exchange has called on the Government to let onshore wind projects continue, as costs are set to fall dramatically.

A new report, Powering Up: The future of onshore wind in the UK, claims the cost of onshore wind estimated to fall to £60/MWh by 2020 – making it most cost-effective low carbon technology in the UK.

The report predicts the cost will fall largely as a result of using larger turbines in high wind speed areas of the country - predominantly Scotland. 

This would put the cost of onshore wind in the same league as a new gas plant and significantly cheaper than offshore wind, biomass, or even nuclear.

The report adds that in order to achieve these cost reductions, new onshore wind projects should be allowed to continue to take part in the Government’s Contract for Difference (CfD) auction scheme. 

It also highlights that, in reality, this would signal an end to onshore wind development in England as the majority of CfD funded projects are currently in Scotland.

The report also recommends fast-tracking the Energy Bill to minimise uncertainty for onshore wind developers and allowing new and repowered onshore wind projects to participate in renewables CfD auctions.

“A complete ban on new onshore wind projects is likely to lead to a higher cost to consumers,” said report author, Richard Howard. 

“Onshore wind is already the cheapest form of low carbon power generation in the UK. It has the potential to come down further in price but only if the government allows it to continue to compete in subsidy auctions.

“In reality, new onshore wind projects will be predominantly located in Scotland where there is greater public support than the rest of the UK. Scotland has higher wind speeds and a sparser population than the rest of the UK, making it more conducive to onshore wind development.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues