Four years after ministers scrapped support for new onshore wind energy projects, the UK government has ended its opposition to subsidies.
A new auction scheme announced yesterday (2 March 2020) will enable onshore wind energy schemes to compete for subsidies alongside solar and floating offshore wind projects.
The decision makes sense, not just for the environment, but for the government too. If it is to have any hope of meeting its commitment to reduce the UK's emissions to net zero by 2050, its own climate advisers believe that the UK's onshore wind capacity will need to triple by 2035. The auction will take place next year, meaning that new renewable energy projects could be up and running and generating clean energy by 2025.
Onshore wind is the cheapest energy source in the UK, but only one new onshore wind farm was started in 2019, as a result of the government's previous policy on subsidies. Projects have been blocked as a result of a government decision to prevent onshore wind projects from bidding for a guaranteed price on the electricity they produced, a decision which was driven by protests from local people who felt that wind turbines were a blot on the landscape.
Local people will still have a strong say in deciding where new onshore wind farms are built, so there are unlikely to be many built in England. However, in Scotland, there are expected to be many new projects, with Scottish Power already having 1000 MegaWatts of wind and solar energy projects in the pipeline and exciting plans to combine wind and solar energy with battery storage on the same sites, to provide more stable and predictable supplies of energy.