A new report from Scottish Renewables claims that the cost to produce renewable energy via wind in Scotland could fall by 20% if certain new policies are adopted. These include reforming the planning system, using the latest technology, the ability to redevelop existing sites, plus changes to the grid and how it operates.
The most effective change would be to install planning guidelines that promote the newest technologies with larger rotor diameters and hub heights which could cut the cost by £11 per MWh. The redevelopment of existing sites could add 1GW of capacity to the existing network. Also new network reinforcements could be avoided by reforming the charging system and deploying new smart connections. Energy storage could be the catalyst to new revenue revolution if barriers preventing wind and storage to participate in the capacity market are removed.
Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables speaking at the launch of the report said “The cost of onshore wind has come down significantly over recent years, and it is now one of the most competitive forms of new electricity generation in the UK.”
The next set of subsidy auctions (Contract for Difference) in the UK to place later this year will not feature onshore wind as confirmed by the UK government. It has yet to be confirmed which technologies will be entitled to bid for the subsidies in this year plus future auctions.
Lindsay Roberts backed up the report’s finding that it makes no sense for onshore wind generation to be left out by stating that “without it, we will all be paying for more expensive alternatives.”
Zoe Barnes, head of the Scottish office of Everzon the consultancy firm that carried out the study upon which the report is based said it “is about identifying concrete actions for government, industry and relevant stakeholders to find common ground to enable onshore wind to fulfil its potential in Scotland – delivering reliable, affordable and clean energy at the heart of the power sector.”
Despite this however a new poll of over 1,000 members of the Institute of Directors (IoD) found that 70% felt that the previous three UK governments had failed to provide an adequate energy policy or reasonably priced energy.
There were some positive results though as 60% agreed that the governments had been successful in increasing energy sources while 45% were satisfied with the efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
It also suggests that those polled support more renewable energy in order to meet environmental goals. They also stress however more must be done regarding energy supply and affordability.
Dan Lewis, senior infrastructure policy advisor at the IoD, said that the newly-created business and energy department should seize this “ideal moment” to reconsider the direction of energy policy.
“Renewables are a significant, and growing, source of energy … but technology based on the weather doesn’t work all of the time, so the UK needs a mix of renewables, nuclear and the cleanest hydrocarbons,” he said.
The results also showed a split on the proposed nuclear power plant at Hinkley with many stating that the government was correct in taking a final look before signing the deal off as less than half believe that the development will increase the UK’s economic competitiveness.
The cost of onshore wind technology has already been falling for some time and last weekwe discussed how it along with solar is expected to be the least expensive form of energy generation by 2025. These additional saving methods proposed by Everzone and Scottish Renewables will go further to make wind generation the least expensive in a shorter period of time.
However in order for this to be achieved we must all be pulling in the same direction. The absence of onshore wind from the CfD auction leaves an air of uncertainty over the entire industry despite concerted efforts to move it forward and help it grow.
Previously we spoke of the government’s choices regarding Hinkley and the alternatives. With pressure now coming from many different industries as demonstrated in the IoD survey now is the time for new policy to promote and encourage a clean energy future.