The Benefits of Onshore Wind

RenewableUK has published a guide to aid local businesses when it comes to tendering for contracts to construct, maintain, and supply the materials for onshore wind farms.

Local Supply Chain Opportunities in Onshore Wind – Good Practice Guide shows businesses each step of the development stages of an onshore wind farm, giving them a detailed insight on what is required and expected when bidding for contracts.

Case studies of successful projects also play a prominent role in the guide including the Fallago Rig wind farm development in Scotland which delivered a Gross Value Added of £18m to the UK economy and in the two year construction phase created more than 320 jobs.

The guide uses good examples to demonstrate how relevant businesses are increasing their presence locally early in the planning process of the pre-construction phase of wind farm developments. They may also raise awareness of the available opportunities by holding events locally for businesses as well as seeking partnerships with local authorities and business groups, and publishing their local spend.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, said onshore wind has proved “a powerhouse for economic growth,” stating that normally more than 60 per cent of the construction spend of a wind farm development is in the local area.

“The British onshore wind industry provides jobs for nearly 19,000 people – and we are determined to maximise the opportunities for local companies to get as big a slice of the economic action as possible,” she added. “We are providing work for a whole range of skilled workers involved in the planning, construction and maintenance of onshore wind farms, as well as those who support them – from hoteliers and taxi drivers to environmental experts.

“The economic injection that comes with each project can be repeated around the UK whenever an onshore wind farm is built, as a lifeline to local communities.”

The guide arrives in good time as wind farm developer Vattenfall recently announced that it has awarded multimillion-pound contracts to local firm Express Reinforcements, which will work on the turbine bases, and Wrexham based manufacturing company Prysmian Cables and Systems, for work on its seventy six turbine Pen y Cymoedd wind farm project in south Wales.

The 228 mW development is the largest onshore wind farm in England and Wales and developer Vattenfall said one year into an overall four year construction period, a total of £45m of contracts have been placed with Wales based businesses leading to over fifty companies and six hundred jobs in Wales being supported by the development. It is projected that the development will be worth up £1billion to the Welsh economy over it 25 year lifetime.

Piers Guy, Vattenfall’s director of onshore wind development in the UK said: “Every contract has been won on merit and it demonstrates that we have the enthusiasm, skills and supply chain capability here in Wales to help deliver the UK’s onshore wind potential.”

Sticking with Wales two 130m wind turbines have been installed in Oakdale, Caerphilly, the first commercial wind farm to be developed in co-operation with a Welsh local authority.

The turbines make up part of the Oakdale Business Park built on the former Oakdale Colliery. They are expected to power the equivalent of 2,400 homes per year and create an annual CO2 emissions saving of around 4,400 tonnes.

The 400 acre site was once a mine, in its heyday employing a workforce of 2000 however the decline in British coal mining led to its closure in 1989 after more than 81 years in operation. Alun Davies AM, Welsh minister for natural resources and food officially launched the project last week.

The project was the result of developer Partnerships for Renewables and Caerphilly County Borough Council working together. The council put no money into the development, with Partnerships for Renewables entering into a 25-year lease agreement with them to rent the land on which the two turbines are located. Partnerships for Renewables will also give £10,000 of funding per year to local projects as long as the wind farm is operating.

Councillor Ken James, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and sustainable development with Caerphilly, said: “Working with our partners and the wider community we have been able to embrace an alternative, more environmentally friendly way to produce energy.

“We are committed to making the Caerphilly County Borough a greener place to live, work and visit.”

This is the second installation Partnerships for Renewables has completed, following the launch of a site at Standford Hill prison in Kent last year. Stephen Ainger, chief executive of Partnerships for Renewables, said: “Onshore wind is not only the cheapest form of renewable energy but can deliver significant economic benefit to local communities.

“We hope our Oakdale scheme will act as a beacon for other public/private partnerships, helping Wales to deliver its renewable energy ambitions.”

Whilst the general public accept the positive affect that clean energy has on the economy, onshore wind can often be shown in a negative light by its detractors, leaving the public wondering other than the clean energy what else does it contribute positively?

Previously we demonstrated how local community projects, charities, and worthwhile causes are benefitting from onshore wind farm developments, and as shown above it goes beyond that, benefiting the local economy in several ways.

At a time of relative austerity many industries are cutting their skilled workforce however onshore wind is forging ahead offering qualified roles to the local employment market. Local businesses are benefiting from wind farm developments by way of sub-contracts from developers and local authorities are gaining revenue streams from joint ventures with developers.

If onshore wind only provided us with clean renewable energy then for some that would be worthwhile enough but it does much more good than that.

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