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Onshore wind ‘central’ to Wales’ green growth plans new study finds

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October, 2021

RenewableUK has published an Onshore Wind Industry Prospectus detailing how all parts of the UK can maximise the economic benefits of onshore wind for bill payers.

The prospectus shows that doubling the UK’s onshore wind capacity to 30 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 could:

  • reduce consumer bills by £16.3 billion in the 2020s
  • amount to an annual saving of £25 for every household
  • create 3,000 Welsh jobs and £4.4 billion GVA with Mid and North Wales benefitting most
  • sustain high levels of Welsh content in designing, building and maintaining onshore wind farms

The recommended UK-wide target of 30GW by 2030 includes specific targets:

  • 5GW target in Wales (1.3GW currently)
  • 6GW in England (up from 2.9GW)
  • 5GW in Northern Ireland (up from 1.3GW)
  • 4GW in Scotland (up from 8.4GW currently)

Furthermore, polling published today by RenewableUK* shows onshore wind enjoys a high level of public support in Wales:

  • 71% support the development of more onshore wind turbines in Wales
  • 74% want the Government to set a long-term target for wind energy ahead of the UN summit on climate change in November
  • 78% of the public agree that the Government should work pro-actively with the onshore wind industry to boost jobs and local business opportunities
  • 63% support building new power cables to support development of new renewable energy sources
  • 74% think when an old wind farm comes to the end of its life, it should be replaced with a new one built on the same land

In its Net Zero Technical Report in May 2019, the UK Climate Change Committee advised UK Government that we need to install 35GW of onshore wind by 2035 as a key step to reaching net zero.

According to RenewableUK project intelligence, at present the UK is consenting less than half the annual capacity needed to reach that target.  Only 22MW of onshore wind was commissioned in Wales in 2020.

Onshore wind also has a key role to play in producing green hydrogen for a wide range of uses.  The prospectus notes renewable hydrogen generated by onshore wind could generate £1.4 billion of economic activity and create 1,000 full-time jobs by 2030.

To seize these benefits, the prospectus sets out a wide range of actions for industry, the UK and devolved Governments including:  

  • introducing annual Contract for Difference auctions to stimulate more investment,
  • expediting a new strategy for grid development in Wales,
  • reforming Ofgem so that it sharpens its focus on net zero
  • ensuring older onshore wind farms are replaced with modern, more efficient turbines.

RenewableUK Cymru’s Director, Rhys Wyn Jones, said:

“Onshore wind is central to Wales’ zero carbon future.  As among the lowest-cost forms of renewable power generation, it can contribute to reducing electricity bills for consumers.  More significant than any target is the potential economic value and employment that onshore wind can deliver.  If we view future development as a zero-sum game between Welsh power and UK consumption, we risk playing roulette with both our climate and economic development ambition.  Considering how other parts of the UK are roaring ahead on zero carbon investment, this is a risk Wales can ill afford. 

“But facilitating any additional build out requires investment in our grid, annual auctions for contracts to generate clean power and a sensible planning environment.”

* Polling conducted by Survation, 1062 adults living in Wales 5-19 July 2021