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DSCF1135_editedThe Midlands gains £520 million of economic benefit from its local onshore wind industry, according to new figures released by RenewableUK. Of that, benefits to the value of £17 million go directly into the local community as a result of installed onshore wind capacity in the area.

There are currently over 360MW of onshore wind installed within the Midlands, powering over 195,791 homes each year. This represents environmental benefits of 352,925 tonnes of CO2 reduced per year due to onshore wind installed in the Midlands alone.

Around 60 organisations in the Midlands involved in the onshore wind sector are listed on the RenewableUK Supply Chain Map. These include offices of onshore wind developers, manufacturers, law firms and consultancies, such as Endurance Wind Power in Worcestershire, Revolvo in Dudley and Infinis Energy Services in Northampton. Endurance Wind Power, for example, manufactures wind turbines for farm wind which generate low voltage, clean energy for farms, businesses, institutions and the local community.

The figures form part of a report, undertaken by BiGGAR Economics for RenewableUK, which shows that the economic benefits of developing onshore wind are strongly felt across the UK, with the onshore wind industry generating a total £906 million in gross value added (GVA) revenue to the UK economy in 2014 alone. Since the beginning of 2012, GVA has risen by £358 million (up 65%) – revealing the increasing contribution that the onshore wind industry and its supply chain makes to the UK economy.

Sophie Moeng, Communications Manager from Airvolution Energy said, “It is a main focus of our company to bring investment to the areas in which we operate.  As such, we are committed to maximising opportunities for the local supply chain, and have demonstrated this by holding Meet the Buyer events to gain awareness of the companies local to our projects that could have a hand in their construction.  We have found getting in touch with local business groups, such as The Chamber of Commerce, a great help in forming this awareness, and we also have a dedicated page on our website for local suppliers to contact us. 

At our M1 J18 project near Crick we were able to achieve 44% local content from the Balance of Plant element. It’s gratifying to see the report show that local level of content has increased in each stage of wind farm development between 2011 and 2014, reflecting our industry’s commitment to ensure benefits are spent locally.”

The largest percentage of local spend comes at the operations and maintenance stage with 42% of the value of contracts (compared to 29% in 2011) being spent in the local area. On a wider level, almost half of the total spend is retained in the region in which a wind farm is located (48%), with this highest at the development stage (59%) and operation and maintenance (58%).

For businesses, investors and other regional stakeholders looking to find out more about the economic impact onshore wind has in their area, RenewableUK has created factsheets outlining the findings for each region: http://www.renewableuk.com/en/publications/index.cfm.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery, said, “The British onshore wind energy industry is adding £906 million a year to the national economy, so the benefits to the UK are clear to see. This report also shows that onshore wind really does bring benefits to the UK – with £7 in every £10 spent on projects invested in the UK.  Onshore wind powers local economies, bringing £199 million of investment into local areas where communities host wind farms, and creating jobs across the supply chain. The industry is helping to propel Britain to a brighter, cleaner future – onshore wind is already the lowest cost of all low carbon options, with potential to be the least cost form of electricity within the next five years.”

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DSCF1246_editedNew research published by the industry-led Onshore Wind Cost Reduction Taskforce, set up by RenewableUK, shows that onshore wind can become the most cost effective new electricity source by 2020, driving down fuel bills for households throughout the UK.

The recommendations put forward fall into four main categories: further innovation by industry, improvement to the grid connection system, ensuring the UK consenting system is functioning as it should and monitoring and sharing best practice within industry. If these changes are implemented they will make onshore wind cheaper than gas, its nearest competitor. The Taskforce’s report takes new gas power stations (combined cycle gas turbine plant) as the expected baseline for cheapest new technology in 2020 with a predicted levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of £65-75 per megawatt hour by this date. The research has shown that without the measures outlined in this report, onshore wind would struggle to get its costs below this level, though would still be the cheapest source of low carbon electricity.

The taskforce looked at three different types of site with different wind speeds and found that if their recommendations were followed, up to £21 per megawatt hour could be shaved off onshore wind’s costs. Across the three types of sites anticipated reductions from today’s costs average 22%.  These reductions would mean that even the higher cost new wind farms would generate at a lower cost than the anticipated marginal new gas power stations, with the lowest cost onshore wind sites being £3 per megawatt hour cheaper than new gas power stations, at £62 per megawatt hour.

Chair of the taskforce Colin Morgan, business manager from DNV-GL Energy, said: “With this report we highlight that it is possible for onshore wind to be the cheapest new electricity capacity by 2020, and exactly how industry and government can work together to deliver this consumer benefit. We hope to be able to take these programmes forward over the next few months to enable onshore wind to grow its role providing low carbon power for millions of homes”.

Chief Executive of RenewableUK Maria McCaffery commented: “This work definitively shows the value of continuing the role of onshore wind in the UK. It’s already the most cost effective way to generate low carbon power, and this report shows that within the next five years onshore wind can be the most cost effective of all forms of power generation, driving down all our fuel bills. We have already seen evidence of the falling cost of onshore wind in the most recent auctions for low carbon power. However, further cost reductions won’t happen if this technology is cut off at the knees by a premature withdrawal of support. We urge politicians to work with us and support onshore wind, to help the UK to cut fuel imports, rather than imposing arbitrary caps on this technology”.

Notes:

  1. RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with more than 500 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK.
  2. The Cost Reduction Task Force report will be available from http://www.renewableuk.com/en/publications/reports.cfm
  3. The Cost Reduction Task Force was established in June 2014 in order to take forward RenewableUK’s manifesto aim for onshore wind to be the cheapest new form of technology by 2020. http://www.renewableuk.com/en/news/press-releases.cfm/2014-06-25-wind-wave-and-tidal-industry-lays-out-general-election-asks-alongside-bold-cost-cutting-agenda-and-new-onshore-cost-reduction-taskforce
  4. The Cost Reduction Task Force was made up of members of the industry and chaired by Colin Morgan, Business Development Manager, DNV-GL Energy.