The UK Conservative party is beginning to come round to the idea of supporting onshore wind deployment according to the chief executive of trade association RenewableUK.
Hugh McNeal (pictured) said that he had been encouraged by three recent meetings with UK Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng.
“The Tories are finally starting to understand” the need for onshore wind to be given price support to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, he added.
“We need 35GW of onshore wind by 2035 if we are to achieve net zero at the lowest cost for consumers,” he said.
“You cannot be credible on net zero if you are not supportive of onshore wind.”
McNeal said R-UK would be lobbying government on the climate and economic benefits of onshore wind “harder than ever” in the run-up to next month’s General Election.
Conservative Environment Network director Sam Hall said “the mood in the party is changing” ahead of the election.
“A win in terms of the Conservative manifesto would be not having anything in there that impedes deployment of onshore wind in the next Parliament.”
ScottishPower Renewables policy director Kate Turner said onshore wind is a “proven tool” for decarbonisation and should be reinstated in Contracts for Difference auctions.
New analysis by R-UK suggests the UK is significantly off track to meet the level of onshore wind needed to achieve the legally-binding 2050 net zero emissions target.
Onshore wind capacity is expected to fall nearly 40% short of the target by 2030, without a change in policy, the association’s research has found.
There is just over 13.5GW of onshore wind installed across the UK and the power it produces avoids over 14 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
The Committee on Climate Change advised government that onshore wind capacity needs to expand by at least 1GW a year to achieve the UK’s net zero emissions target, reaching 35GW by 2035. This would require approximately 29GW to be installed by 2030.
Analysis by R-UK shows that, on current trend, capacity will grow to only 17.8GW by 2030.
Reaching this level depends on 4.5GW of new onshore wind farms being built without government-backed contracts for new renewable power.
Instead this new capacity would rely on power purchase agreements with corporates or the merchant power price. Just under 1GW (740 megawatts) would be repowered, with older turbines replaced at the end of their life by new modern turbines.
In a lower growth scenario, onshore wind capacity would grow by only 1GW in the next decade to just 14.5GW by 2030 as the rate of new wind farm installations is outpaced by the retirement of older projects, according to R-UK.
Only the high scenario in the analysis envisages significant growth in onshore wind with capacity growing to 24.4GW.
“Reaching this level would require supportive policies from government, including allowing onshore wind to compete for new Contracts for Difference, setting planning guidance for repowering and enabling use of the most modern turbines,” the association stated.