UK’s first subsidy free wind farm

Energiekontor confirms it has reached financial close on Withernwick II extension project, after securing PPA with leading consumer goods brand.

Construction work is set to begin on what is believed to be the UK’s first subsidy free onshore wind farm, after developer Energiekontor announced it has reached financial close on its 8.2MW Withernwick II extension project in Yorkshire.

The company confirmed yesterday that it has secured a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with an unnamed consumer goods brand, allowing it to proceed with the project.

A contract has also been signed with turbine manufacturer Senvion for four MM92 turbines, with the project now expected to come online in early 2019.

The development will take the capacity of the extended Withernwick Wind farm to 26.65MW.

The project represents a major milestone for the UK onshore wind energy market, which has faced a development hiatus over the past year following the government’s decision to block onshore projects from competing for clean energy price support contracts.

A number of developers have responded by seeking PPA contracts with large corporate customers and Energiekontor believes the Withernwick II project is the first to make it to the construction phase without any form of government support.

Peter Szabo, CEO of Energiekontor AG, said the project represented a major step forward for the UK renewables industry.

“Our extensive experience and reputation as a trusted partner in the UK market, has once again persuaded a large industrial partner to sign a PPA,” he said in a statement. “The financial close of the Withernwick II project, the UK’s first profitable wind farm under pure market conditions, shows that our strategy to reduce costs by improving efficiency is bearing fruit.

“It also underlines our pioneering role in the quest to realise wind farms and solar parks with a lower levelized cost of electricity than fossil and nuclear alternatives. It is our most important contribution to our vision of a society whose electricity needs are fully covered by renewable energy.”

A number of other PPA-backed onshore wind and solar projects are understood to be in the pipeline and the trend has been broadly welcomed by the government, which has cited it as evidence that renewables can now be developed without recourse to subsidy support.

However, critics have countered that allowing onshore wind and solar farms to compete for government-backed clean energy contracts would help curb energy bills for consumers, while allowing the sector to scale up faster at a time when the UK is set to miss its medium-term emissions reduction targets.