RES plans new onshore wind power without subsidies

Project developer RES has said that new planned onshore wind farms in the UK will be viable without subsidies, in another demonstration of the competitiveness of UK renewables.

The company, which has projects across Europe as well as in Australia, the US, Canada, and Turkey has a portfolio of UK onshore wind farms that have received planning consent – most recently the Hill of Towie II and Blary Hill projects in Scotland.

“RES is delighted to have received consent for Hill of Towie II and Blary Hill; these projects join our growing portfolio of over 140 MW that we believe will be some of the first projects in the UK to come forward in the post [renewables obligation] RO-era on a no-subsidy basis,” the company said. “RES believes there is an appetite in the market for viable projects that can be delivered either through corporate [power purchase agreements] PPAs or on the wholesale price of electricity alone.”

A spokesman added that its expectations were in line with the findings of a recent report by consultants Baringa. “RES agrees that the most competitive onshore wind projects should be able to proceed without a subsidy and will move towards GBP49.40 [US$63.65] per MWh and beyond. The onshore wind industry has been striving to make considerable cost reductions in recent years and RES looks forward to continuing to deliver projects that represent the best value for the UK consumer,” the company said.

Baringa says that the UK Government could deliver 1,000 MW of new onshore wind capacity at no additional cost to consumers over and above the long-term wholesale price of power. However, it adds, “delivery is dependent on mature renewables being able to bid in auctions for long-term contracts for clean electricity, such as those offered to offshore wind and the new nuclear facility at Hinkley Point.”

The government has ruled out further support for onshore wind and has banned further schemes beyond those already in the pipeline, despite wind’s enduring popularity with voters and the government’s focus on bringing down energy costs. The move has caused particular rifts between Westminster and the devolved Scottish Government, which has been supportive of new projects, particularly on northern Scottish islands.

Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart, whose company commissioned the Baringa report, said that: “At these kinds of prices, onshore wind can continue to play a key role in cutting carbon emissions whilst keeping bills down. However, we will only deliver those benefits at scale if onshore wind and other mature renewables are able to bid again for long-term contracts for clean electricity generation.”