An economy-wide coalition of UK companies and organizations has called on the country’s new Energy Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, to support the development of new onshore wind farms in an effort to extricate the technology from its current persona non grata status so as to further boost the country’s efforts to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
In a letter sent to the new Energy Minister, who was appointed to the role in late-July by incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a coalition of onshore wind developers, trade bodies, investors, and supply chain companies have urged Kwarteng to reinvigorate new onshore wind development and remove barriers to entry.
The call comes less than a month after the government’s advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), recommended that onshore wind be allowed to compete in the government-backed Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction scheme for auctions to generate electricity. Specifically, the CCC believes that, if the barriers to onshore wind’s participation in these auctions is lifted, 35 gigawatts (GW) of onshore wind could be deployed over the next 15 years. According to the Chief Executive of the CCC Chris Stark, “the more onshore wind we have, the cheaper net-zero becomes.”
Further, the authors of the letter call on the new Energy Minister to update planning rules so as to allow the most modern and efficient wind turbines to be used at suitable high-wind locations around the UK, as well as setting out new guidance to support the pending need to replace older turbines.
Signatories to the letter include major companies in the sector like ScottishPower Renewables, EDF Renewables, innogy, SSE Renewables, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Vestas, RES Group, Vattenfall, Statkraft, and CS Wind, as well as trade associations RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables, and the call for a new approach to support onshore wind is further backed by the trade union Prospect, the National Farmers’ Union, the RSPB, the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses, the manufacturer’s organisation Make UK (formerly EEF), the National Infrastructure Commission, the Aldersgate Group which campaigns for a sustainable economy, and the environmental campaign group 10:10 Climate Action.
“Decarbonising our economy while increasing generating capacity and keeping bills low is a huge challenge that will require a mix of technologies to achieve,” said Sue Ferns, the Deputy General Secretary of the trade union Prospect. “It is obvious that onshore wind has to be a key part of that mix. A rapid expansion of onshore wind deployment also has the potential to create thousands of good green jobs across the UK, and help secure a Just Transition for workers as high carbon generation is phased out.”
“Clean onshore wind power is popular in every single constituency in the UK, is our cheapest energy source bar none, and is a solution to the pressing climate crisis,” added a representative for the environmental campaign group 10:10 Climate Action. “Local communities can lead, own and benefit from new projects – but only if the de facto ban is lifted and onshore wind is granted fair treatment alongside other energy sources.”
“It’s great to see such a wide range of companies and organisations speaking with one voice in strong support of onshore wind,” added RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Hugh McNeal. “There are shovel-ready onshore projects across the UK that would bring in billions of pounds of investment, support thousands of jobs and even cut consumer bills. Onshore wind is the cheapest option for new power in the UK and it is essential if we want to achieve net-zero emissions. We hope the new Government will take swift action to let onshore wind compete on a level playing field.”
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