A recent agreement entered by the Scottish government to aid in achieving its 20GW onshore wind target by 2030 has been lauded as a “model” for the rest of the UK, particularly for England, which has lagged in this regard.
The accord was formally introduced at the Onshore Wind Conference in Edinburgh, with signatories including the government, Scottish Renewables and ScottishPower, a subsidiary of Iberdrola.
This pact outlines pivotal strategies to assist Scotland in realising its 20GW onshore wind goal by 2030, a figure more than double its present operational capacity of 9.4GW. These strategies encompass a commitment to streamline the planning process for Scottish onshore wind farms, cutting the current waiting period in half to no more than a year.
Additionally, the agreement includes commitments to engage with local communities at the earliest stages to establish a package of benefits and to enhance the recycling of turbine components to bolster the sustainability of the supply chain.
James Robottom, the head of onshore wind at RenewableUK, a co-organiser of the event, expressed his satisfaction, saying, “it’s truly encouraging to witness such close collaboration between the Scottish government and the industry to generate thousands of jobs and attract substantial private investment in onshore wind, which stands as one of the UK’s most cost-effective sources of new energy. This sends a clear message that Scotland is open for onshore wind business, providing certainty to investors and enabling the industry to establish new supply chains.”
Furthermore, this agreement serves as an “excellent model” that could be emulated across the UK to reduce electricity costs and enhance energy security.
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Claire Mack, the CEO of Scottish Renewables, noted, “a tremendous amount of effort has gone into making this agreement a reality and it is truly advantageous for the industry to know that the timeline for planning onshore wind farms will be reduced to just 12 months.”
Jess Hooper, Director of RenewableUK Cymru, suggested that a similar pact in Wales “would instil investor confidence, signalling that Wales is open for onshore wind business to achieve our net-zero objectives and create numerous job opportunities.”
Notably, England has effectively prohibited new onshore wind projects since 2015, stifling growth in this sector. While UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently relaxed onshore wind turbine regulations following a party revolt, developers have criticised these changes as inadequate and unclear.
RenewableUK also unveiled a new report at the conference predicting that Scotland’s contribution to the UK’s operational onshore wind capacity will surge from 60% (8.3GW) in 2020 to 75% (20.7GW) by 2030. In contrast, England’s share is projected to continue dwindling, falling from 21% in 2020 to 11% in 2030.
The report additionally highlights that 93% of newly proposed onshore wind capacity since 2016 has been in Scotland, out of a total of 12.5GW proposed nationwide in the UK.