Proposals for at least six new wind farms in the North East may no longer proceed after DECC axed subsidies for onshore wind.
Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, told the commons last month that the main subsidy scheme, the Renewable Obligations (RO), would be shut down a year earlier for schemes over 5MW. When announcing the policy change, Ms Rudd said “projects which have planning consent, a grid connection offer and sale, and evidence of land rights for the site on which their project will be built on can proceed during the grace period.” This applies to overall 10 UK schemes, 7 of which are in the North East.
Although new scheme can bid for subsidies through the new Contacts for Difference (CfD) regime, it is thought that the Government is likely to favour other renewable technologies such as offshore wind and solar.
DECC has estimated that about 7.1GW of the onshore wind capacity proposed across the UK will not be eligible for the grace period and is therefore unlikely to go ahead. That equates to about 250 projects, totalling about 2,500 turbines, which are unlikely to be built. The onshore wind projects that are unlikely to go ahead could have cost hundreds of millions of pounds. Although, Rudd has said that an estimated 4GW of new onshore wind will still be developed by 2020. This will bring the UK’s total capacity to 12.3GW.
It has been argued that onshore wind is one of the cheapest technologies and should be deployed further in order to meet low carbon emission targets. RenewableUK’s chief executive, Maria McCaffery, has responded to the change with: “The Government’s decision to end prematurely financial support for onshore wind sends a chilling signal not just to the renewable energy industry, but to all investors’ right across the UK’s infrastructure sectors.”
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