Slow growth of UK's onshore wind sector jeopardising net-zero goal - RenewableUK

The Bishopthorpe wind farm in Lincolnshire. Source: BayWa r.e. renewable energy GmbH

January 15 (Renewables Now) - The UK experienced another drop in onshore wind capacity additions in 2019, bringing live just 629 MW, figures by RenewableUK show.

The trade body released the statistics on Tuesday, alarming that the lower level of capacity additions is mainly a result of weak government support for the sector. The UK onshore wind industry saw the commissioning of only 23 wind farms in the past year, with Scotland being the region with the largest number of new power plants.

The 2019 total compares with 651 MW of capacity commissioned in 2018 and the record 2,683 MW that was added in 2017 when 343 projects went live as developers rushed to meet the deadline to qualify for government support. Last year, 22 of the 23 completed projects were eligible for incentives under different schemes before they were closed to onshore wind developers. 

“These figures highlight that the current approach is falling short on delivering renewable energy capacity at the level needed for net zero. This is a flashing red warning light on our net-zero dashboard and we urgently need a new strategy from the government,” said RenewableUK’s head of policy and regulation Rebecca Williams.

For the whole year, planners in England gave their nod to just 2 onshore wind schemes with a combined capacity of 1.9 MW. The situation was a way brighter in Scotland, which has committed to back onshore wind to meet its climate goals. Projects with a combined capacity of 556 MW have received the green light in 2019 and 1,969 MW of proposals have been submitted into the planning system.

The Committee on Climate Change previously said that the UK’s onshore wind capacity needs to grow from 13 GW now to 35 GW by 2035 so that the net-zero emissions target is reached under a low-cost energy strategy.

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Veselina Petrova is one of Renewables Now's most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.

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