England Not Windy Enough, Admits Wind Industry Chief

  • Date: 05/06/16
  • Emily Gosden, The Sunday Telegraph

England is not windy enough to justify building any more onshore wind turbines, the chief executive of wind industry trade body has admitted.

Hugh McNeal, who joined RenewableUK two months ago from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, insisted the industry could make the case for more onshore turbines in some parts of the UK, despite the withdrawal of subsidies.

But he said this would “almost certainly” not be in England, as the wind speeds were not high enough to make the projects economically viable without subsidy.

Although the Government has implemented its manifesto pledge to end subsidies for new onshore wind farms, the industry believes it should be able to deploy more turbines onshore if it can show that this is the cheapest form of new power generation capacity.

Current wholesale electricity prices are too low to spur investment in any new form of power generation, so the Government has already had to make subsidies available to new gas plants.

If financial support required by onshore wind is less than that required by gas, the industry argues it should no longer be regarded as “subsidy”.

“We are now the cheapest form of new generation in Britain,” Mr McNeal said. “If plants can be built in places where people don’t object to them and if, as a result of that, over their whole lifetime the net impact on consumers against the alternatives is beneficial, I need to persuade people we should be doing that.”

But new wind farms in England were “very unlikely”, beyond those that have already secured subsidies and are awaiting construction, as they would not be cost-efficient enough to undercut gas power, he said.

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