The UK’s first commercial wind farm was built in Delabole, Cornwall in 1991. Since then, onshore wind energy has established itself as a mature, clean and productive technology. It is now the UK’s largest source of renewable energy generation.
Onshore wind farms reduce CO2 emissions, provide energy security, and contribute to the local and national economy. Research conducted by RenewableUK and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has shown that for each installed megawatt (MW), around £100,000 stays in the community during the lifetime of a project.
Onshore wind works well in the UK because of the excellent wind resource. It has also become one of the most cost effective forms of renewable energy, providing over 5,000MW of capacity. A modern 2.5MW (commercial scale) turbine, on a reasonable site, will generate 6.5 million units of electricity each year – enough to make 230 million cups of tea.
Opinion polls consistently show high levels of support for onshore wind in the UK, with higher support in rural areas. In the UK, there are numerous onshore wind projects, ranging from single turbines to larger, multi-turbine schemes (see below for further details). Projects are developed by an increasingly diverse range of people, from large energy companies and independent developers, to community groups or small businesses and farms.
Onshore Capacity (MW)
As of the end of 2014, the total onshore generating capacity in UK provides around 17 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity annually, equivalent to the electricity consumption in excess of 4 million homes. Industry projections see a total of 12-14GW installed by 2020, by which point onshore wind will supply over 10 per cent of the UK’s total electricity annually. Employment growth in the sector has been substantial since numbers were first sourced in 2008 and now stands at around 19,000 full time employees, with the potential for this number to almost double by the early part of the next decade.
Read RenewableUK’s open letter to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) on the Government's interventions into wind energy projects. It includes 42 RTPI member signatures.