A new deal signed by the Scottish government to help it reach its target of 20GW of onshore wind by 2030 has been hailed as providing a “blueprint” for the rest of the UK, not least its lagging southern neighbour England.
The agreement was signed yesterday (Thursday) by the government, Scottish Renewables and Iberdrola subsidiary ScottishPower at the Onshore Wind Conference in Edinburgh.
It sets out key measures to help Scotland reach its target of 20GW of onshore wind by 2030 – more than double its current operational capacity of 9.4GW.
These include a pledge that it will take no more than a year for Scottish onshore wind farms to go through the planning system, halving the current wait time.
There are also commitments to engage with local communities at the earliest opportunity to agree on a package of benefits; and increase the recycling of turbine components to make the supply chain more sustainable.
James Robottom, head of onshore wind at RenewableUK, which helped organise the event, said: “It’s great to see the Scottish government and industry working together so closely to create thousands of jobs and attract millions in private investment in onshore wind, which is one of the UK’s cheapest sources of new power.
“This sends a clear signal that Scotland is open for business for onshore wind, bringing certainty to investors and enabling the industry to build up new supply chains,” he said.
The deal is also an “excellent blueprint” that could be “replicated throughout the UK, to drive down electricity bills and boost our energy security.”
Scottish Renewables chief executive Claire Mack said: “An incredible amount of hard work has gone in to making this deal happen and it is a real benefit to the industry knowing that the time onshore wind farms take to go through planning will be halved to only 12 months."
Jess Hooper, Director of RenewableUK Cymru, said that an equivalent deal in Wales “would build investor confidence, sending a clear signal that Wales is open for business to onshore wind to achieve our net zero targets and create the thousands of job opportunities on offer.”
England has had an effective ban in place on new onshore wind projects since 2015, thwarting any kind of growth there.
RenewableUK also published a new report at the conference that forecasts Scotland’s contribution to the UK’s operational onshore wind capacity will increase from 60% (8.3GW) in 2020 to 75% (20.7GW) by the end of 2030.
Unsurprisingly, England’s share is predicted to keep falling, from 21% in 2020 to 11% in 2030.
The report also shows that 93% of new onshore wind capacity submitted for planning approval since 2016 has been in Scotland (11.6GW of a total of 12.5GW submitted UK-wide).