Installations of new onshore wind farms have hit the lowest level in seven years.
That’s according to new analysis by RenewableUK, which found the figure fell by nearly 80% last year since 2011.
A total of 598MW of new onshore wind capacity was installed last year, consisting of 263 turbines at 54 sites – a fall from 2.66GW installed the year before.
The trade body suggests the announcement of Hitachi suspending the development of a new nuclear power station at Wylfa in north Wales adds to the gap in clean energy needed to meet the UK’s carbon targets.
With the closure of ageing nuclear plants and other power stations in the 2020s, the nation faces a shortfall of more than 55TWh by 2030, the analysis adds.
It reveals there are currently 4,466MW of shovel-ready onshore wind projects that have gone through the local planning process, which could produce more than 12TWh a year – equivalent to two-thirds of Wylfa’s output.
It also cites independent figures which show the government could procure new capacity for £46/MWh, which is cheaper than gas, new nuclear as well as other renewables.
RenewableUK believes the fall in installations is “largely the result” of changes to government policy to block onshore wind from competing in schemes that support renewable energy deployment.
The Renewables Obligation scheme officially closed to new onshore wind projects in 2017 and they were also barred from the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, which uses competitive price auctions to procure new renewable capacity at the lowest cost.
Emma Pinchbeck, RenewableUK’s Executive Director said: “Onshore wind is now the cheapest source of new power for UK billpayers and it is supported by more than three-quarters of the British public. We have ready-to-go onshore wind that can help close the gap between the low carbon power we need and the amount government policy is actually delivering.
“The Secretary of State has rightly recognised that renewables can now be delivered with little or no subsidies and that they have earned their place at the heart of a modern energy system. But government has stacked the odds against onshore wind being built at the scale needed to meet our carbon budgets and excluded these projects from competing for government-backed power contracts.”