MPs call for Ministers to unblock onshore wind and champion marine power to reach net zero
22 August 2019
Posted by: Rob Norris
RenewableUK is urging the Government to adopt key recommendations in a report published today by the cross-party House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on reaching net zero emissions at the lowest cost for consumers.
The new report, “Clean Growth: Technologies for meeting the UK’s emissions reduction targets”, notes that although onshore wind is low cost and low carbon, it is currently excluded from competing for Government-backed contracts to generate power (CfDs), and that planning permission for onshore wind farms has been made more difficult to obtain, leading to a drastic fall in much-needed new capacity.
The committee is calling on Ministers to ensure that there is strong policy support for new onshore wind projects – including a national planning policy, by 2020, to make it easier for developers to repower their sites with the latest technology when projects come to the end of their natural lifespans.
A RenewableUK report published in April showed that 8 gigawatts of onshore wind capacity – which currently generates nearly a fifth of the UK’s entire renewable power output – could be retired over the next two decades.
The report also focusses on the UK’s world-leading marine energy sector, urging Ministers examine the case for Innovative Power Purchase Agreements for wave and tidal energy projects. IPPAs would stimulate investment in marine power by giving tax rebates to companies which buy electricity from marine generators.
The Committee also says that Government could use future CfD auctions to support marine energy. Under the current system, wave and tidal projects have to compete with offshore wind, which is far more advanced commercially.
The Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, said: “Onshore wind power can offer low-carbon electricity at low cost. However, planning policy and financial support mechanisms currently make it hard for new sites to be installed and potentially for existing sites to be re-powered. The Government must ensure that it facilitates such projects where there is local support and projected cost-savings for consumers over the long-term.
“Marine energy could provide clean energy and economic growth, often in disadvantaged regions of the UK. The Government must examine proposals put forward by the industry to support the development of these innovative renewable energy technologies”.
RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Emma Pinchbeck said “This report is a clarion call to Ministers to slash energy bills for consumers by unblocking the development of new onshore wind projects, as well as encouraging the redevelopment of existing sites with even more powerful turbines”.
“The report also highlights the urgent need to support our ground-breaking wave and tidal energy sector, to keep the UK at the cutting edge of innovative renewable technology, and to help reach the decarbonisation targets which Ministers themselves have set. The Government’s commitment to net zero by 2050 is visionary: this report provides a road map to achieve it while keeping bills down, attracting investment and creating tens of thousands of highly-skilled new jobs”.
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3. More on repowering onshore wind is available here
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More information on the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is available here.