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Renewables report says wind sector boosted UK economy by £1.25bn in 2014

06 October 2015

The wind energy sector drove £1.25bn of investment into the UK economy last year, generated £402m onshore and £840m offshore turnover for UK companies and employed 30,500 people, according to a new state of the industry report. The publisher, renewables energy trade association RenewableUK, called for the government to provide more clarity over its future renewable energy policy.

The report says that more than 2 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power capacity was installed in the period from July 2014 to June 2015, taking the country's total capacity above 13 GW.

More than 60% of onshore wind farms are now installed and operational in Scotland. Scotland's wind farms generated an annual turnover of £211m, which was higher than those of England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined. The total UK onshore wind turnover last year was £402m.

In the 12 months covered by the report, Scotland delivered half of all wind farm construction and secured more than 70% of planning consents granted in the UK. In contrast, England had the lowest consent rate in the UK, securing less than 10% of applications granted and 25% of capacity.

The industry fears consent rates in England will fall further this year, after the government changed the planning rules to give local residents the final say over wind farm applications and announced plans to close the Renewable Obligation (RO) subsidy scheme to onshore wind farms from next April, as part of the Conservative manifesto commitment to "halt the spread of onshore wind farms".

The UK’s offshore wind sector remains focused in England, with almost 1.4 GW of offshore wind constructed in English waters in 2014/15, meaning the benefits of construction and operation are being felt most by coastal English communities, such as Grimsby and Lowestoft. Total UK offshore wind turnover last year was £840m.

Scottish offshore wind saw 2.3GW of capacity consented in 2014/15 in contrast to the 4.9GW of new capacity consented in England.

In a survey for the report, 36% of RenewableUK’s member companies said they expected to grow by 10% or more over the next 18 months. However, 73% described the investment climate as less favourable than the previous 18 months (up from 48% the previous year), and 42% expected to decrease investment. Nearly 90% of companies said Government policy has become less favourable to renewables, compared to only 23% in 2011. 

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Maria McCaffery said: “We hope this report will serve as a wake-up call to Government, proving that the wind industry is delivering a substantial amount of clean power, investment and jobs to Britain – despite mixed messages from Ministers.

The new study noted that wind now generates 10% of the nation’s electricity needs and powers the equivalent of more than 8 million British homes, businesses and factories. Overall, 25% of the UK’s electricity is now generated from renewable sources.

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