Scotland Pulls Ahead Of England In Onshore Wind, While England Races Offshore

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Scotland’s onshore wind industry is pulling ahead of England’s, but England is focusing a lot of its attention on its offshore industry.

These are the key findings from a new report from the UK’s leading renewable energy trade association, RenewableUK, which published its annual Wind Energy in the UK report this week.

According to the report, 60% of UK onshore wind projects are now installed and operational inside Scotland, with the Scottish onshore wind industry now generating a higher annual turnover for the UK overall than England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (the remainder of the United Kingdom) combined. Specifically, over the 12 months covered by the report (July 2014 through to June 2015), 50% of all construction activity and 70% of all new consents were in Scotland, while only 25% of capacity and less than 10% of new consents were in England — the lowest consenting rate for the whole of the UK.

However, the offshore wind industry in the UK is still focused on England, with almost 1.4 GW of offshore wind constructed in English waters, and another 4.9 GW of new capacity consented in England over the past year — compared to Scotland’s 2.3 GW consented.

The UK wind energy industry received investment of £1.25 billion over the period of the study, while more than 30,500 people in Britain depend on the wind industry for their livelihoods, with 15,500 direct and 15,078 indirect jobs.

“We hope this report will serve as a wake-up call to Government, proving that the wind industry is delivering a substantial amount of clean power, investment and jobs to Britain – despite mixed messages from Ministers,” said RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Maria McCaffery.

“As this report notes, the Government has yet to set out its long term plan for energy policy. Ministers have stated that their objective is cutting carbon at the lowest cost to consumers, so it is difficult to understand why they are undermining investor confidence in the energy sector as a whole by announcing sudden unexpected changes in policy. This is especially true regarding onshore wind which is the lowest cost clean technology and is set to be cheaper than new gas by 2020, so it deserves to retain its place in our energy mix rather than being excluded from it.”

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Joshua S Hill

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8 thoughts on “Scotland Pulls Ahead Of England In Onshore Wind, While England Races Offshore

  • This article reads quite strangely. Scotland and England are not in competition here. They’re both part of a single grid, both subject to the same UK government initiatives and initiative withdrawals.

    There are two obvious differences:

    (1) Scotland is *far* less densely populated. Presumably it is easier to find suitable sites, and then easier to get planning consent. This would be true even if there were no difference in the regulatory or planning environments (there are some differences, but this article does not speak to their relevance).

    (2) ocean depth in suitable sites close to English shores tends to be shallower than off Scotland. This makes building offshore farms close to England cheaper.

    So: I am not sure why these two parts of the UK are being distinguished for the purpose of this article. And I’m not sure how distinguishing helps to “serve as a wake-up call to Government, proving that the wind industry is delivering a substantial amount of clean power”

    Any enlightenment gratefully received.

    • Ecotricity, the small utility focussed on building new renewables (largely onshore wind) have as I understand it shifted to Scotland, given up on England, due to the difficulties getting new wind built….even after local planning permission successful, many have been pulled in by the minister and blocked

      • Thanks, that’s helpful. Do you know of a list anywhere detaling consented onshore farms subsequently blocked by the central government? It would help me to cajole my MP.

    • Yes, it seems to be a tacit acceptance of Scottish independence. Since the emergence of the large SNP majority it does feel ‘semi detached’ with its own policies invariably at odds with anything English and the not very subtle hints at another referendum.
      Should that be brought in I for one would favour a UK-wide vote which should ‘scotch’ the SNPs ambitions.

      • There’s no doubt a political element here. Headlines which *push* the *idea* that Scotland is semi-detached and generally at odds with UK policy are very prevalent, even when the arguments they advertise don’t appear to be particularly relevant to the Scot vs UK debate. Presumably the main point of the article above (Steve’s point notwithstanding) is that cutting the onshore subsidy is misguided. That’s a UK policy which divides opinion across the UK, and not along national borders.
        That said the Scottish (SNP) government has been generally supportive of renewables. Given that there is no equivalent English government it’s difficult to compare! But clearly the current UK government has made changes which may well have an impact on onshore turbine construction. And these changes – if they occur – would disproportionately affect industries and employment in Scotland.

    • One significant difference is local taxation. Mrs Thatcher nationalized business rates (property taxes) in England and Wales as part of her war with Labour-controlled local authorities, but the change left out Scotland. Scottish local authorities benefit financially from wind farms, and as planning authorities are more likely to approve them.

      Scotland does have better wind resources, see any map.

      The politics of NIMBYism are largely English. Scottish nationalism pulls the other way, as Donald Trump found when he tried to block a development near a Scottish golf course he owns.

  • I have seen a number of articles about studies indicating that wind turbines did not have a negative impact on land values or tourism. In fact, there are some that actually like to see them, like me.

  • As an American, I have seen the various divisions of race, class, religion, gun culture, energy culture, etc. polarize into an extremely hostile binary conflict between “Red” and “Blue” America. Once things go that far, everything becomes political, and even a cause for threats of violence and secession. Nationalism is now all about a set of specific political views. In Britain and America (Australia, Canada) corporations push right-wing views by all means possible, so the mere act of Scots thinking about seceding from all that frees their minds on other issues, like why is our energy held hostage by Wall Street and the City of London?
    Eventually hostility between factions becomes so bad that views on all issues are chosen because they are the opposite of the other side’s and the other side must be fundamentally evil. What began as a coalition of interests becomes a tribe fighting for its survival. Those Syrians protesting Assad’s bias and tyranny a few years ago never imagined they’d end up having to choose between ISIS and Russian invasion.

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