Scottish Developers Announce Subsidy-Free Onshore Wind Farm

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Independent Scottish developer Muirhall Energy announced on Monday that construction has begun at the Crossdykes Wind Farm, an important step in the company’s effort to deliver Scotland’s first subsidy-free onshore wind project.

Image Credit: Muirhall Energy

The 46 megawatt (MW) Crossdykes Wind Farm, being developed at Dumfries and Galloway, in the western Southern Uplands of Scotland, is expected to produce first power in September 2020. Muirhall Energy and its partners WWS Renewables reached financial close on the project in August — believed to be the first subsidy-free development to be project-financed, thanks to funding from Close Brothers Leasing and wind turbines to be supplied by Nordex.

Muirhall has also offered the local Dumfries and Galloway community the opportunity to buy up to 10% of the project via a community share offer.

“We are delighted to be starting construction on what will be one of the first subsidy-free developments to come online in the UK,” said Chris Walker, Managing Director of Muirhall Energy.

“That is testament to the work we have done as a company, but also the flexibility shown by all our partners as we finalised our plans for the project.

“We are now very much focused on working to our tight construction timeline and progressing a number of the other projects in our portfolio which we believe can be made to work on a similar model.

“With more than 300 MW to begin construction over the next three years, this an exciting time for Muirhall Energy.”

The milestone of construction start and the potential of delivering Scotland’s first subsidy-free onshore wind project comes despite a complete lack of support from the UK Government.

“Access to the Contract for Difference or some other support mechanism would make a huge difference to the economics of the sector, encouraging the build-out of some of the more challenging consented sites, therefore ensuring onshore wind makes the biggest possible contribution to meeting our net zero climate change targets whilst keeping bills down for consumers,” explained Chris Walker.

“It’s exciting to see work getting underway on what will be one of the UK’s first subsidy-free onshore wind farms, with all the economic benefits that brings to local construction companies as well as consumers,” added Rebecca Williams, Head of Policy and Regulation at RenewableUK, the country’s trade body for wind energy. “Several other such projects are in the pipeline, but we need more volume if we’re to maximise the benefits of the UK’s cheapest power source and reach net zero emissions at the lowest cost.

“We need to see Government positively support the wider deployment of onshore wind: top of the list is allowing new projects to compete for Government-backed contracts to generate power. We also need to see measures to encourage developers to replace older wind farms with newer turbines, as it’s vital that we maintain our current capacity. So the time has come for new Ministers to set out a plan for onshore wind.”

“The Scottish Government strongly supports onshore wind, and recognises the positive role it plays in our energy mix, net-zero ambitions and to our economy,” said Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands. “A price-stabilisation mechanism would allow far more onshore wind projects like Crossdykes to be fully realised, and allow more consumers access to the cheapest form of electricity generation at scale. UK Government must re-consider the exclusion of ‘established technologies’ from the Contract for Difference auctions framework in order to deliver the significant benefits onshore wind can offer.”

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Joshua S Hill

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